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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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  • Posted March 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wow!!!!!!!!

    At first I wasn't sure I like this book or the cast of characters. However, the more I read the more intrigued I became. This story is simply so original and unique that it stands alone in the horror genre. Joe Hill is a powerful writer and close to becoming one of my favorites. This book examines the evil in everyone, especially in those we love the most and we who think love us back.

    14 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Devil in the Details

    After reading his short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, you understand that Joe Hill can write anything and make it believable. And he should, since he is also Steven King's son. Horns, his second novel, is about the good and evil in all of us, about love and hate, about family and secrets, and about religion, philosophy, and revenge. The story focuses on a poor soul named Ig, who wakes up after a morning of debauchery with demonic horns on his head. They come with strange powers, and - like any gift of the devil - have consequences. As Ig learns to use the horns he is turned toward investigating the murder of his true love, Merrin, for which he was the prime suspect. You root for Ig, even as he becomes more demonic, and you loathe the villain, who is among the top creepiest you'll ever read. Horns is a great book, and Joe Hill is a major, major talent.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Joe Hill is the real deal . . .

    Let me get right to the point . . . Horns by Joe Hill is one of my all-time favorite books. Joe Hill really knows how to tell a story. He held my attention throughout the entire book. When you have a creative plot with realistic characters plus a talented author who can weave a story you end up with a book that is worth your hard earned money. This is a great book from a great writer. A+ for Horns by Joe Hill.

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Demons are Human Too - In HORNS Anyway

    The premise of the book is simple enough - Ig Perrish wakes up after a terrible night of binge drinking, while grieving for his murdered sweetheart, with horns growing on his head. But don't get fooled by this premise. Yes, the story could be called simple, yet the sense of humor, character development, emotional complexity and general "fun-ness" of the book elevates it to different level. Joe Hill is a great writer and he knows dialogue like nobody's business.

    What I loved about this book, which I thought was better than Joe's other novel HEART-SHAPED BOX, are the characters. Despite the idea that they might have demonic or supernatural badness in them, they are also so humanly flawed and desirous of salvation. In the end, I think this is what made me like this book and Joe Hill so much. Even though he is touted as a horror writer, what sets him apart is his ability to see the redeeming qualities in people, especially when they're at their worst. Read Horns; you'll see what I mean.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    super parable supernatural thriller

    One year ago in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ignatius Parrish's perfect life as a second son of affluence died when someone murdered his beloved Merrin Williams. As he has much of the time since she died, Ig got drunk. Last evening intoxicated he visited the sight where her corpse was found. Outraged with the makeshift cross there as Jesus should have shown up a year ago, he rips down the artifact and urinates on it and his feet.

    The next day he wakes up with a horrific headache, the "un-Merrin" Glenna Nicholson in bed, and horns on his head; the latter leads to his peeing on his feet for the second time in less than twelve hours. Ig assumes the horns are caused by either remaining drunk or mentally insane due to grief; a kind of pink elephant purgatory. Despondent, everyone even his family, who got the police inquiry aborted, assume he killed Merrin in a rage. He believes the horns are real and God has joined his family, friends, and others in deserting him; everyone except the devil. Ig realizes his horns come with power so he begins his investigation into who killed Merrin and his soul because he plans to send this monster on a one way ticket to hell shortly

    This is a super parable supernatural thriller that looks deep at the dark side of humanity in which faith is not enough. Ig is a terrific antihero as he recognizes the devil's team cannot be the hero regardless since legend means more than good deeds. The support cast, especially the deceased Merrin, Glenna, and Ig's brother trumpeter Terry, add depth to an exciting paranormal whodunit. However, this is Ig's road to bear the trials and tribulations like a Job, but unlike a Job he chose the other side losing faith in a God who allowed his Merrin to die so horrifically.

    Harriet Klausner

    4 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2013

    ONE OF THE BEST!!

    First of all, I'd like to address those people who feel the need to tell the entire story line, paragragh after paragragh. STOP IT! It's annoying, boring, and ruins it for the rest of us. A review is supposed to be a paragraph or two describing WHY you did or did not like the book. With that being said, HORNS is one of the best books I've read in a while. Great characters, intetesting plot, and some surprising twists. Kept me interested the whole way through. I will definitely be reading more from this author!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This book was

    Phenomenal. Joe Hill's ability to captivate the reader is beyond impressive. Finished this book in 2 days and I wanna read it again.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    Fantastic!

    About a man who tries to do right, the world does him wrong- the wrong gets ahold of him...... it's thrilling, it's spellbinding, you want him to win! Even though the "Devil" makes him do it! It's a great book! You don't want to put it down...... He goes down an embankment behind a bunt out factory into a small lake - comes out burnt & ready for revenge- he's had enough of being the good guy, time for the devil to get his due & BOY does he! Did you know this is Steven King's son? Read his other book next, I recommend it also! BRAVO!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2010

    Joe Hill's new novel is a chip off the old horns

    Horns is excellent. A completely original novel that truly allows you to have "sympathy for the devil." Joe Hill has definitely been inspired by his father's vision, but he is not by any means living in his shadow. Joe Hill has emerged as a horror author with his own voice, and I look forward to reading more of his horror fiction in the future.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    All Kinds of Awesome!!

    This book has EVERYTHING! Get ready to laugh and cry! Touching, beautiful, disturbing, heart-breaking and inspiring. Highly recommend this one. Joe Hill has the potential to be one of the great American writers of all time! Certainly the best of his generation!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Horns by Joe Hill Merrin (Mary) Williams is dead. She was slau

    Horns by Joe Hill

    Merrin (Mary) Williams is dead. She was slaughtered under heinous circumstances, leaving the hero of the story, Ignatius Martin Perrish (Ig or Iggy), as the one everyone in Gideon, NH suspects committed the murder.

    One year after Merrin's death, Ig spends the night "drunk and doing terrible things." Next morning he awoke with a headache and "horns." He freaks out and in trying to get to the doctor, he discovers that the horns come with an incredible power. Whenever he meets anyone, they all want to tell Ig all of their intimate secrets. That's how he discovers that everyone in town still blames him for the murders. That's how he discovers who the murderer is.

    Merrin and Ig met when they were 15. Merrin was moving to Gideon from Rhode Island and they met in Church. Merrin used her gold cross to send Iggy a message in Morse code. Ig does not know Morse code, but Merrin leaves the cross behind for Ig to return it to her.

    Meanwhile Ig thinks he was saved by one of his brother;s acquaintances, Lee Tourneau. In a prank that Ig sand his brother Terry were involved with, Ig runs down the "Evil Knievel trail" to get a Cherry bomb from Eric Hannity in a dare, after they blow out an uncooked turkey.

    Because Ig believes Lee saved him from the river, they start a very sick relationship. Terry asks for the cross from Ig - and he agrees to give it to him. But Ig wants the cross back, and Ig trades the cross for the cherry bomb. Lee then blows out a car and in the process gets hurt. So their relationship gets even sicker.

    Merrin and Ig have been in love since that day at church. They solidify their relationship at "The Tree House of The Mind" - a tree house they find one day and have never been able to find again.

    Merrin's sister, Regan, died of a rare type of breast cancer at age 22. And Merrin is diagnosed with it when she goes to Harvard to study. Ig was supposed to go to London to serve with the Peace Corps, and because Merrin did not want to enslave Ig, she decides to break up with him. Ig does not takes it well and gets very drunk. He awakes on his Gremlin next day, not knowing Merrin was killed.

    Merrin had befriended Lee and fell pray to his shenanigans. Merrin had consulted with Lee on how to break up with Ig, and Lee thought Merrin was coming up to him. After the break up, Lee just wants to get inside Merrin pants, but Merrin will have no part of it. So Lee rapes her and kills her. Terry was in the car with them, but very drunk and stoned. So Lee incriminates Terry and therefore Terry become an unwilling accomplice.

    Ig, now that he has all these powers, has to figure out how they work so he can make Lee pay. Apparently, Lee is the only person that is immune to Ig's new powers. So Ig has to create a plan. After luring Lee to the foundry where it all began, Ig has to fight first Eric - who works for Lee - and later Lee himself. He gets help from his brother Terry - who overcomes Ig's power - since he's tired of watching his loved ones die - and stays to help Ig. Lee and Eric are both killed, but Terry is bitten by a poisonous timber rattler snake. Ig is hurt,but he burns himself (a symbol of baptism) to be reborn. In the process he finds "The Tree House of The Mind" and realizes that he, Ig, was the person who had rattled Merry and him 10 years prior when they were at "The Tree House of The Mind." Thus Ig reunites with Merrin there (Heaven, Hell?)

    The story is told mainly from the third person point of view - but when Ig interacts with the subjects there is a change of point of view. At that point the narrative changes to an universal point of view - to indicate the new powers that Ig possesses.

    The book is full of religious symbolism and metaphors.

    Hell is knowing what everyone is thinking at all times - as Ig quickly discovers. Cherry is the cherry tree that is where "The Tree House of The Mind" is. Cherry is popping a virgin's cherry, and the cherry bomb that invites Lee to Ig's life. Fire is a form of baptism - as Ig is reborn in it several times. Serpents are servants of the devil - as when they are attracted to Ig once he's reborn in the fire. They are used as a form of rape - as when Ig saves a young kid from having to lick one. And they are used as weapons - as when one is used to kill Lee and another to injure Terry. "The Tree House of The Mind" is either heaven or earth - but it's where Ig and Merrin will spend their eternal lives together. Merrin is Mary - as Dale Williams, Merrin's father, calls her when he and Ig visit.

    I was deeply moved and entertained - book is quite funny - by the book but could not help to notice the messages being stated as I read:

    "The soul may not be destroyed. The soul goes on forever. Like the number pi. it is without cessation or conclusion." (p 216).

    "God loves man, we are told, but love must be proved by facts, not reasons. If you were in a boat and did not save a drowning man, you would burn in Hell for certain; yet God, in His wisdom, feels no need to use His powers to save anyone from a single moment of suffering, and in spite of his inaction He is celebrated and revered. Show me the moral logic in it. You can't. There is none. Only the devil operates with any reason, promising to punish those who would make earth itself Hell for those who dare to love and feel." (page 218)

    "...sin could always be trusted to reveal what was most human in a person, as often for good as for ill." (Page 300). ..."most of the good ideas came along to make sin a whole lot easier." (p. 366)

    "...Satan turns up in a lot of other religions as the good guy. He's usually the guy who tricks the fertility goddess into bed, and after a bit of fiddling around they bring the world into being. Or the crops. Something. He comes into the story to bamboozle the unworthy or tempt them into ruination, or at least out of their liquor. Even Christians can't really decide what to do with him. I mean, think abut it. Him and God are supposed to be at war with each other. But if God hates sin ad Satan punishes the sinners, aren't they working the same side of the street? Aren't they the judge and the executioner on the same team?" (p. 313)

    In short, this is a brilliant, saddening, funny examination of all humanity's faults and what it means to truly achieve redemption.....

    I strongly recommend this book to everyone. I loved it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2013

    Great storytelling!

    Loved this story, unique and creepy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2013

    Twisted, different, and amazing!

    I didn't know what to expect from this book. However, I loved it. The characters were interesting, the plot entertaining, and the ending satisfying. It is hard to say much more without ruining something, but I absolutely recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Engrossing

    I inhaled this book in a matter of days and it brought out a range of emotions within me while doing so. It definitely has some adult themes and disgusting parts to it, but I found it to be a beautiful novel.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    Wow

    I couldm't put this book down. A different and surprising story. Loved it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2013

    LOVED IT!!

    This book was amazing. It was extremely reminiscent of good OLD Stephen King books (like father, like son) in that is not your typical horror with blood and guts and no substance (though it did have some blood and guts). The story line was original and well thought out. I could not put the book down.

    I see that Mr. Hill has written a couple with his father. I guess I will have to try those out since I have exhausted all single-author titles by Mr. Hill. Hope his collaborations are as good as he writes on his own.

    Please bring us more Mr. Hill!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2012

    Phenomenal

    This book was rivoting could not put it down i highly recommend this book. Great story. Original concept.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2014

    I got lost in this!

    Big fan of Joe Hill and this does not disappoint. It is lengthy, detailed without too much and a great love story, if you believe that. Throw in some evil characters, some creepiness and I was all in. Didn't want it to end!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2014

    Hmm

    I like this man. NOT! Men should never be dominant. They have submission in their veins! ~ iddam maddi's cousin.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2014

    Chrissy

    Good book

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