Horns – Joe Hill

This is my second book by Hill, after Heart Shaped Box, and I have to say I enjoyed it much more. It has the shine and luster of a more practiced novel, you can almost see the elements combining and working together like the insides of a clock. Tick- tock, the little wheels spin and everything works just how it’s supposed to.
If I were to sum it up in a few words, I’d say: The Devil is in all of us. Sometimes it just takes longer for his horns to come out.

Is it a story about love, is it about friendship, or about the (d)evil in all of us, or about human weaknesses, about envy and lust and gratitude and horrendous cruelty? Yes, yes, and more yes, it’s all that and more.

Ig Perrish and Merrin Williams are high-school sweethearts. Their love story starts in a church and ends in an old abandoned foundry. Quite poetic, one might say.
Ig and Merrin seem to be made for each other and apparently nothing stands in the way of a happily ever after. Except, well, someone with an unbelievable streak of cruelty.
When Merrin is found raped and dead, Ig becomes the suspect. By an incredible stroke of bad luck, the circumstances are not in his favor either, but due to his father’s connections, there is no trial and he gets released. Almost a year later, after a drunken night spent at the place of the murder, Ig wakes up with horns on his head. They give him a strange power and he decides to use it to find Merrin’s killer and punish him. The secret is out about halfway through the book – you don’t have to go through the whole novel just to see who did it but you’ll have to keep reading to see why and how that happened.

The narrative goes back and forth between present and past, presenting snippets of events that connect with each other. There are quite a few musical references, The Beatles, Keith Richards, Louis Armstrong to name just a few. Religion is ever present, from the morally corrupted priest to Merrin’s protective golden cross and the blessed tree house in the woods.
The book brings back memories of reading Stephen King’s novel, IT – there are some common elements but Hill made his evil characters much more vicious and straightforward. I particularly liked it for the way in which the author managed to weave the little details together making the story fit together nicely, each detail placed exactly where it can have a better impact, like Merrin’s letter which I thought was a neat insertion – it provides a few interesting answers and brings about closure. If you’re looking for a book which will answer the questions it raises, you have picked up the right one. This is no subtle reading but a pure straight shot of evil.

*Read in November 2011

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8 Responses to Horns – Joe Hill

  1. Jenners says:

    I read Heart-Shaped Box ages ago but never read another one. You do know this author is Stephen King’s son, right? It interested me to see the comparison to IT, and I wondered if you knew.

    • Delia says:

      Hi Jen,
      Yes, I know he’s Stephen King’s son, that why I wanted to read his books. I must say I liked Horns better than his first novel.
      What did you think of Heart-Shaped Box and have you read any of King’s books?

  2. I enjoyed Horns and looked forward to Heartshaped Box but wasn’t impressed at all. I am not a SK fan though, he writes excessively in my opinion.

    I hear the short stories are great, will give them a try I think.

    • Delia says:

      Horns was better than Heart-Shaped Box but none of them are as good as Stephen King’s books.
      The short stories are good, maybe King in small doses would be more to your taste. Have you seen any of the movies made after his books?

  3. Aubrey says:

    You know, someone recommended Horns to me a while back and I never got around to reading it . Your review makes me want to read it! Actually I haven’t read anything of his and based on your review it sounds like I should start with this one. 🙂

  4. Vishy says:

    Nice review, Delia! I like the plot of ‘Horns’. It looks like a revenge thriller – the kind of plot I like 🙂 I will look for this book. I haven’t read Stephen King’s ‘IT’ too. I will look for that too.

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