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Horns

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

35 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

Is Evil Necessary?

The title of Joe Hill's second novel encapsulates the problem facing its main character - Horns. Ignatius "Ig" Perrish wakes up after a hard night of drinking brought on by the one-year anniversary of his girlfriend's murder. He may not have his memories, but he does ha...
The title of Joe Hill's second novel encapsulates the problem facing its main character - Horns. Ignatius "Ig" Perrish wakes up after a hard night of drinking brought on by the one-year anniversary of his girlfriend's murder. He may not have his memories, but he does have horns. Actual, bony protuberances. A trip to the hospital finds the horns aren't the only unusual thing about Ig.

He has the ability to make people around him disclose their innermost thoughts, sinful fantasies and confessions of past and planned crimes. If he touches someone, he sees their sinful pasts. If he thinks about it, he can make them act on their worst desires.

The first people Ig listens in on confirm one of his worst fears. Everyone believes he's guilty of murdering and raping his girlfriend, Merrin. Even his parents who just wish Ig would go away. His brother, who hosts a late-night talk show, falls under the horns' spell and tells Ig who really murdered Merrin. And all of this happens in the first fifth of the book.

In a typical horror novel, Ig would embark on a quest to rid himself of the horns and seek justice. But Hill isn't a typical horror writer. Instead of rejecting the evil of the horns, Ig embraces it, finding it second nature to encourage people to act out their desires. Ig isn't a hero in the conventional sense of the word.

It could be hard to root for him to succeed - usually a reader cheers for the characters fighting the devil - but traditional good and evil don't apply here. Hill doesn't take a black-and-white view of the world in Horns; it's grey streaked with darks and lights. Perhaps the question underlying the novel's events is whether evil is necessary.

Where Hill hits his stride is in the extended flashbacks to younger versions of the main characters. The novel becomes a coming-of-age story where teenagers do stupid teenage things that create bonds between them lasting well into adulthood. The allure of cherry bombs sets off a chain of events that introduces Ig to Lee, who becomes his best friend and the third player in the Ig-Merrin relationship.

Lee has his own issues to deal with as an adult, and the clich├ęs a lesser author might trot out never come to pass. The characters are complicated and fully realized. Even minor characters enter with a full history. The reader has the impression Hill knows all of his characters down to what brand of toothpaste they use. Hill's talented so he doesn't feel the need to put everything he knows down on the page. It's enough he knows and uses that knowledge to inform the choices the characters make.

The flashbacks can hold more attraction than the present-day pieces, but that may be because they tell the story of before Ig's life fell apart. As the horns become more important to who Ig is, the reader starts to look for signs Ig will find a way out, that good will prevail and innocence will take the day. These things happen . and they don't. Not all questions are answered by the last page. And the ones that are don't come with a nicely tied ribbon.

It's inevitable Horns will be compared with Hill's first novel, Heart-shaped Box. Whether one is better than the other is a matter of personal taste. The two novels are different, with Horns coming off as a little more fantastical and requiring a little more fantastical and requiring a little more suspension of disbelief. Regardless, Horns is an enjoyable read that leaves you anxious for another Joe Hill book.

posted by TDotts on February 16, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Horns

HORNS by Joe Hill is the story of Ig, who wakes up after a night of drinking with horns growing out of his head. He soon also learns that he also has the ability to get people to tell him their deep dark evil thoughts. Everybody has evil thoughts don't they. But the rea...
HORNS by Joe Hill is the story of Ig, who wakes up after a night of drinking with horns growing out of his head. He soon also learns that he also has the ability to get people to tell him their deep dark evil thoughts. Everybody has evil thoughts don't they. But the reason Ig drinks is that his one true love, Merrin was raped and murdered and he was the prime suspect. Although he was never convicted, the town still believes he did it and he is treated as such. And now with his newly acquired power, he is determined to find the person who killed his girlfriend and redeem himself. So is this a horror story or not? Although the whole devil thing is a little perverse, deep down I feel this is a story of love, angst and redemption.

posted by grumpydan on March 4, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2010

    Never the same

    I read alot of books, different types. I can honestly say that I will never be the same. This book scared me to a whole new level. I kept thinking that somehow it would change, thus changing my opinion. I feel like I need to burn the book and ask God to forgive me....seriously.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2013

    Don't Bother

    It started out pretty good. Interesting premise and I really enjoyed this authors first effort (Heart Shaped Box). The longer I read the sillier this story got. I've read almost everything this authors father has written. After reading "Box" I thought that the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Maybe not.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Excellent story. Couldn't put it down!

    Son of Stephen King, Joe Hill is an amazing story teller. I've read everything he's written, and have never been disappointed. Horns is a book that grabs you right away, and you don't want to stop reading. I'm glad I made this book part of my collection, as I'll read it again.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2012

    Interesting idea but doesn't pan out

    Like Heart Shaped Box it is an interesting idea but not fully realized

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  • Posted May 25, 2011

    Skip It

    If you want to read a good book from Joe Hill read Heart Shaped box. This was a bore that could have been so much more.

    JJC

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    A disappointing Read

    Seemed contrived and unreal. Not as good as it should have been

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 15, 2010

    Was Hoping It'd Be Better

    This book wastes no time waking up the central character, Ig P, after a night of getting drunk and letting him discover that he now has horns--not musical horns, but horns growing out of the top of his head. He also had a rather disturbing ability to now know the unvoiced secrets of anyone he encounters. He's especially privvy to those those which would normally be suppressed, and Ig (I guess like a mutant variation of "id" and "ego") has the odd "talent" of being able to give "permission" to act on these normally suppressed behaviors. This, you'd probably agree, is a very odd premise for a novel, but then, so is the bug in "Metamorphisis," and I kept feeling like this book was going to be symbolic at some level rather than just a gross-out novel.

    After this intriguing introduction to some of the main characters of the novel, the book seems to stall and falter in tiresome nastiness between Ig and his friends and relatives. Ig's girlfriend, Merrin, has been murdered, and while Ig has not been charged, he is the suspect. Although the ugliness of the people in Ig's world has some intrigue, base, crappy behavior is actually quite boring. It's even more boring when it doesn't quite match up with how I tend to see people as likely to behave or think. It's not that I think people are angelic (far from it!); it's just that this part of the book just seemed "off" in it's knowledge about real-life people.

    I was ready to stop reading the book at this point, but decided to check on the age of the author. Youth tends to get a little leeway with me, with first novels (this is the author's 2nd), if I think there's some potential for improvement. And then I realized the author is the son of Stephen King, and thought I'd definitely stick with the novel a little longer.

    Although I'm glad I did, ultimately I felt the book was quite uneven in it's development. The next section of the book begins to give more of the backstory in Ig's life, exploring his relationships with his friends and family. It's at this point, that another character in the book really became very compelling. You would expect that Ig, with horns on his head, is going to be evil, evil incarnate even, but it's this other character that has this veneer of innocence but will set off all your evil-radar-alert-systems. And that makes this book fun, at least temporarilly. For awhile, I started to really look forward to reading this book (even if it meant hopping onto my treadmill with my nook), because this other character is creepy! By the end of the book, however, I was disappointed. The ending was especially bleh, and not really sure I'd read another of his books unless it had strong recommendations.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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