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Horns

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

44 out of 51 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 clichés 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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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    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 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 clichés 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.

    44 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 30, 2010

    Joe Hill just keeps getting better and better!

    I have to start off by saying I'm somewhat of a "Fan-Boy." I've been a long time reader of Stephen King and fully believe he's the greatest writer of our time. When I heard that his son was a published author as well (and did it without disclosing his heritage until after the fact) I knew I had to see what he was all about. I started with Heart Shaped Box and then read 20th Century Ghosts. Both were amazing. Horns is no exception. From the very first chapter--a mere paragraph or so--Mr. Hill hooks you into wanting to keep flipping the pages, and this feeling never leaves. It's an odd story, full of some really sick and twisted characters, and Mr. Hill has no shame in putting onto the page the reality of things. Heart Shaped Box was a horror story, flat out, and a good one. Horns, doesn't seem so much as a horror story to me as it does a dark--very dark--psychological thriller with a supernatural/spiritual underbelly. It's a wild ride and it concludes with an ending that just seems perfect to have come somebody with the real last name of King.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2010

    Great book!

    I love Joe Hill's books! He is a very talented author and I enjoyed Horns immensely!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Instead of Suspense, Hill Keeps You Reading With Mystery

    Hill's second book is a fast-paced, very rewarding read. Unlike in Heart-Shaped Box, where Hill maintained a propulsive narrative through suspense and dread, he relies instead on mystery, skillfully employing a variety of different character POVs to reveal the answers to the central mystery: who killed Merrin Williams, Ig's true love, keeping the reader turning pages nonstop to find out. With intriguing questions about the nature of evil, the bounds of love, and the dimensions of the mind and soul, Horns burns a hot fire that scorches itself on your imagination.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    Very original

    I really enjoyed this book. Joe Hill definitely has his father's knack for wildly original stories. I couldn't put this one down and I will definitely be reading more from him. I don't want it to seem that I am comparing him as an author to his father, because his writing style is much different than Stephen King. It is the originality only that can be compared.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2013

    Interesting

    Liked it a lot...thought provoking and a great story

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2012

    sething different

    good story telling. hard to guess the ending

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    Impressive

    Deceptively deep

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2012

    Great story

    I have another favorite author! Intriguing story, can't wait to see what he does next

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2012

    Very good

    Very good, not great. Loved the storytelling and the plot. Had a hard time caring about the characters though....and the story semed a bit repetitive at times.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2012

    Wonderfully creative! I am looking forward to more well written

    Wonderfully creative! I am looking forward to more well written work by Hill!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Damned If You Do

    In a nutshell, if you like a book that will grab you by the shirt collar and not let go until it's story has been told, then this book is for you.

    Horns is many things.
    It's a love story. It's a story of misunderstandings. It's a story of a deeply disturbed young man. It's a story of how one right made a lot of wrongs. It's the story of a man who must make peace with events through a medium he never expected. It's a story of vengeance and redemption. It is also a story of horror.

    When we meet Ignatius "Ig" Perrish, he has just recovered from one hell of a bender and can't remember anything that's happened...except for the fact that his girlfriend-since-they-were-teenagers, Merrin, is still dead and everyone still thinks Ig did it, even thought he was exonerated for the crime. He has also awakened with an inheritance - a set of horns on his head.
    Said horns have an exceptional effect on people - they can't resist telling Ig their innermost secrets. So, Ig decides maybe he can find out who really killed Merrin...and the fun ensues.
    Be warned. We're introduced to a character that has to be one of the most foul since Hannibal Lecter in a lot of ways...Lee Tourneau. He's not a nice man at all. He gives new meaning to the word "psychopath".

    Joe Hill is Stephen King's son, and it shows. He's rummaged in Dad's toolbox, but Hill has tools and a voice all his own, make no mistake. The plot is tight, flashes back and forth in time without confusing the reader, and makes some interesting statements on the afterlife, revenge and what a demon will do when given the task of avenging someone.

    Now, you may be asking yourself why I'm reviewing Mr. Hill as Horns is his third book, his second book, Heart-Shaped Box has been optioned for a film (Horns has, too) and obviously he is getting to the established section of authordom?
    It's because he's so damned good I want everyone to know it.
    I liked Horns a lot. It winds it's way through it's story and by the time I got to the end? I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out how it was going to end.
    When I give a positive review, I like to submit the 13 Questions to the author to answer so you the reader can get to know them better. I broached this with Joe Hill through his Twitter page:
    WrittenUniverse
    [...] I want to review Horns for The Written Universe...but I'll need you to answer the 13 Questions I pose to authors. Are you willing? 6:51 PM Jun 24th via web
    joe_hill
    [...] Sorry, I pro'ly couldn't swing it. Hope you had some fun with the book, tho. Friday, June 25, 2010 9:04:24 AM via web in reply to WrittenUniverse
    WrittenUniverse
    [...] No problem - I'll only post at the end of the review you were too busy, but gracious about it (because you were)... Saturday, June 26, 2010 3:15:41 PM via web

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Offbeat Thriller

    A year ago, Ignatius Perrish, Ig, had a perfect life. His long-term relationship with his girlfriend, Merrin, was moving along well, and they were talking marriage and kids. He had just landed a job in London and after six months apart, Merrin would be moving there and they would live a successful life. He has great friends who are becoming successful in their chosen fields, and a supportive loving family. What could go wrong?

    Unfortunately, everything. After a stupid bar fight, Ig leaves Merrin and drives off drunk to sleep it off. He heads for the airport, only to be arrested in line, discovering that Merrin has been raped and violently killed. While there isn't enough evidence to take him to trial, he remains a 'person of interest'. Everyone in town is sure he committed the murder and he is shunned and reviled daily.

    On the day after the anniversary of Merrin's death, Ig wakes up to find something has occurred. Something else horrible. During the night, he has sprouted horns; yes, horns. As he tries to make sense of this, he comes to realise that the horns give him the ability to read people's secret thoughts, and their most despicable desires. Shocked by what lies in the heart of everyone he meets, it still gives him the ability to solve the mystery of what really happened that night it all went wrong.

    This book is recommended for readers who love thrillers and horror. Once started, it is almost impossible to put this one down. The reader is drawn along, repulsed by what Ig discovers but unable to stop reading about his journey. The ending is cathartic and by then the reader is totally engrossed in Ig's story. Hill intersperses horror with interesting backstory, taking the reader back through Ig and Merrin's childhood and teen years, building the suspense of watching these perfect lives fall apart. This is Hill's second novel and readers will be ready for his third.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2015

    Pretty good

    Pretty good, but could of been better. Some really nice parts
    , but also some parts that dragged. Overall, a recommended read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2015

    Not bad

    Horns surely did keep me interested, but the plot seemed predictable to me. That may have been intended but at times it was a little annoying. I believe good books keep you reading and great books keep you guessing. Overall, I enjoyed this book even though it was hard to read at times due to its gruesome nature. As a side note, I haven't seen the movie but I was picturing Daniel Radcliffe the entire time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2014

    Great novel

    Great read. Intrguing plot twists. Great post modern structure and satisfying end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2014

    NOS4A2

    I googled this and got German for a type of nasty vampier.
    Vampiers and time travel - can't ask for more.
    This book has an easy flow from beginning to end. If you liked Horns and Heart Shaped Box you will like NOS4A2 too.

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  • Posted October 11, 2014

    ¿Horns,¿ a significantly better book than Joe Hill¿s first novel

    “Horns,” a significantly better book than Joe Hill’s first novel (“Heart-Shaped Box”) features a well-balanced blend of supernatural horror, realistic human evil, gallows humor, and vengeance. Ig Perrish (clever pun on the protagonist’s surname), a year after escaping suspicion for his girlfriend Merrin’s brutal murder, wakes one morning to find horns sprouting out of his forehead.

    As he tries to discover what the heck is happening to him, he stumbles upon his newfound ability (apparently thanks to said horns) to learn the deepest darkest secrets of anyone with whom he interacts. This blessing/curse allows him, of course, to learn the identity of Merrin’s murderer. Revealing the killer’s identity rather early on in the story may appear to be a fundamental flaw in the plot, but Hill skillfully weaves together a number of protracted flashbacks along with alternative perspectives on pivotal events in the story to fashion a complex yet eminently comprehensible narrative.

    “Horns” deftly combines the best elements of supernatural narratives, revenge thrillers, and metaphysical/theological conundrums. Hill draws upon both classic lore and pop culture (e.g., “Sympathy for the Devil” and “The Devil Inside”) to highlight the ironic contrast of Ig’s literal transformation into a devil. Highly recommended for those who enjoy their supernatural fiction with a splash of intellectual sophistication.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2014

    Buy it!

    Cohesive and entertaining. First time reader of this author, far from disappointed, after reading Horns I have gone on to purchase two additional books.

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  • Posted September 9, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I loved that all of the characters, even the minor ones, were so

    I loved that all of the characters, even the minor ones, were so developed - so complicated and fleshed out. Even the super creepy/twisted Lee was fun to read about.

    This novel was a unique and entertaining joyride! If you are easily offended by crude language, don't bother - but for those that recognize that this is a book written for adults, read on! I absolutely loved it. =)

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