233 of 251 people found the following review helpful
Ig Perrish wakes up one morning with a hell of a hangover and discovers that he has grown horns on his head. He has become a (the?) devil, has powers and thus opportunities (but also downsides) he didn't have before, and within a short time, he knows just what he wants to do with them - take revenge for a hideous wrong. How best to do it?
That's simple enough, an amusing premise for something of a supernatural thriller, but Joe Hill does more than just exploit that - a lot more.
First of all, the book is just crazy funny. Hill has a great ear for dialogue, his scenes are often completely absurd and yet somehow believeable, and the situations are, after all, ridiculous on their face, but he makes it all work.
Second, his plotting (for such a strange book) is tight. The heart of the book is something of a murder mystery, and Hill uses flashbacks from various characters to good effect, putting the pieces of the puzzle in place in a pretty clever way.
Third, there is something more than just a wild ride for his characters here - there is actually a touching love story, and the revelations behind various motivations and actions are really well done. The last 50 pages or so, and especially the last 20, are in fact just downright intimate - and all without seeming mawkish or losing the flavor of the very strange ending.
It's a crime story, a horror story, a love story - frankly, it's a lot like something Steven King would have written 20 years ago. It's excellent.
101 of 108 people found the following review helpful
"Ignatius Martin Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things." So begins Joe Hill's excellent sophomore novel, Horns. As the straightforward title suggests, the novel has a simple, high-concept premise. After the aforementioned night of doing terrible things, Ig Perrish wakes up the next morning with a pair of horns growing out of his head. His reaction is typical enough. After the immediate shock of it, he concludes he's hallucinating--and either way, he'd better see a doctor.
It is with these initial interactions, with his girlfriend, the folks in the doctor's office, and most disturbingly with his family, that Ig makes several unpleasant discoveries. No one reacts to the horns. Rather, they're compelled to share their deepest, darkest, sickest secrets. Trust me; you don't want to hear the most vile thoughts of a stranger on the street--much less those of your grandma!
Just when this grotesque show-and-tell is beginning to feel a bit old, Hill moves on and dives into the meat of his story, Ig's story. One year prior, Ig's childhood sweetheart, the love of his life, was violently murdered. The crime was never solved, and Ig is widely believed to be the murderer. Very widely believed, he is to learn. Hill's novel ultimately spans several literary genres. It's a supernatural thriller, a murder mystery, a coming of age story, and a dark comedy all rolled into one. And the novel succeeds quite well on all counts.
As the story drew to its conclusion, the thing that was very noticeable to me was how elegantly constructed the novel was. It was like a perfect puzzle, with different clues and unanswered questions salted throughout. But by the end, everything came together in a way that wasn't so much neat as inevitable. It was elegant. And it was emotionally satisfying. And it was darn entertaining, which is just about the highest praise I can offer.
P.S.: For those of you who realize there is a coded message on the end papers of the novel, but are too, uh, busy to decipher the message, I'm putting the solution in the comments section of my review.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2011
Stayed up late reading last night, to finish Joe Hill's Horns. The book blew me away. I'd read about half of Hill's collection, 20th Century Ghosts, so I knew what sort of caliber to expect, but...wow. Phenomenal. The concept is so brilliant, so obvious, and yet so perfectly executed: the protagonist, Ig Perrish, stumbles toward the mirror after a night of drunken mischief, gazes upon his own reflection to find he has grown a pair of devilish horns.
The story is told in a clever, anachronistic series of revelations, flashbacks, and varying perspectives on the same hellish, downright heartbreaking series of events. Hill's talent for weaving a yarn from dreamlike scenes, sudden remembrances, and epiphanies is something I've scarcely seen done so masterfully before. He manages to direct the reader's every thought, not misguiding through deception -- such acts are the sort of devilry that only Ig Perrish would condone -- but rather leading his audience through darkness (as well as some truly beautiful, almost divine imagery both heartwarming and obscene) toward the inevitable conclusion.
Without spoiling too much, I'll simply say that Horns was everything I wasn't expecting, in addition to that which I was. For every sinister act of the devil, there eventually shines the light of God (saith the Atheist in Theology 101). It's a fascinating, brilliant, saddening, glimmer-of-hope examination of all humanity's faults and what it means to truly achieve redemption.
Theology, though, is far from the real focus of the novel -- although it is certainly a heavy thread throughout. In fact, the devil Hill portrays is a purely modern conception: powers of deception, influence over the sinful mind, rock n' roll, and rusty pitchforks. It's all rather 21st-century, in its acknowledgement of human tendencies and the way our society holds sin upon a pedestal of priority.
Some of the most gorgeous prose, some of the most perfect characterization, and one of the most heart-wrenching, downright human stories ever told. I struggled to hold back the tears...tears fighting to seep out, to friggin' weep, out of plain, unabashed sympathy for the devil.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2011
Part murder mystery, part contemporary fantasy, part theological satire, part treatise on the nature of good and evil, Horns is a book of many parts, and is well worth your time. The nicest guy in the book is the (or maybe just "a"?) devil, which gives you something to think about. Joe Hill is going places.
I think the low ranking reviews, missed the point by a country mile. I think some of the low reviewers didn't read the book, or if they did they couldn't overcome their religious bias (just my opinion). Hill stomps over delicate sensibilities in hobnail boots without apology, but he tells a heck of a story.
127 of 163 people found the following review helpful
I've been waiting for the release of Joe Hill's second book ever since I finished his debut masterpiece "Heart Shaped Box." Sadly, Hill hits a bit of a sophmore slump here and Horns fails to live up to its potential.
To start, Joe Hill is a fabulous writer. His prose is some of the best in horror today and his use of imaging and metaphors are that of a writer with far more books under his belt. Furthermore, his characters are welll drawn and multifaceted. Where Hill falls in Horns is on the plot itself.
Horns styles itself a horror novel, but mostly it is an almost Jodi Picoult look at love and tragedy and its effects on three main characters. Ig makes for a good main character and the first 70 pages which deal with his new horns and their ability to make people tell the horrible truth about their sins is fascinating. Ig is a suspected murderer and he finds out the true feelings of his accquaintances and relatives. Sadly, after a roaring first fifth of the book, the real murderer is revealed and we are plunged into a long flashback taking Ig and the other characters from teenagers to adulthood with a few present day chapters sprinkled in.
The horns chapters are good, the flashback chapters are good, but they never seem to find a happy connection with each other. The ending also feels rushed and like the final gasp of a writer who just wanted to get the book out of his life as soon as he could.
Horns isn't a poor book by any means, there are many plasures to be had with it. However, it does not rival Heart Shaped Box in any way. We can only hope book number three will be a return to glory.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2011
What an incredible book - but what else could you expect from Joe Hill? His debut, "Heart Shaped Box," had one of the most unique plots and set of characters of any book I've encountered, and his tight plotting, constant twists and absolutely shocking backstory keep you riveted the entire time. "Horns" draws on his experience, expands it with a deeply emotional plot and deepens the reader's experience as well. This book is impossible to put down, and it is impossible not to feel deeply for the characters, even when what you're feeling is a deep betrayal at the revelation of someone's true nature or the secrets they keep.
Unlike Hill, I'm not the best writer, and I just can't convey the amazing experience that this book was for me. Just go read it already. You will not be disappointed - that much I can promise.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2012
Horns by Joe Hill is is a rare find. It is new and exciting. Not your ordinary horror story. Everything about it is different from anything I have read before. It's difficult to find stories that are unique and not a take-off on something that has been written before. Mr. Hill's writing and imagination are one of a kind. He has a true gift and I await more of his books with baited breath. Thank you Mr. Hill for keeping me enthralled. I will be looking for more of your books with anticipation!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2013
With the release of NOS4A2, also by Joe Hill, I thought I'd review his previous novel, Horns.
No spoilers. I promise.
From the opening paragraph Horns hooked me and wouldn't let go. It's a book you won't want to put down, so catch up on sleep before you begin.
Joe has a writing style that most authors would envy. Engaging. Suspenseful. He builds from one mystery to the next while interweaving the past and present to address each mystery in its own due time.
What may draw people to the story, and keep them plugged in, is what the horns symbolize--the inner devil in us all. The theme is explored throughout the book with the people Ignatius meets. Combine insights into the dark side every one of us has with brilliant writing, and you have a classic page-turner.
At times you'll want to throttle the protagonist, Ignatius Perrish. Other times you'll find yourself rooting for him. He evolves. He changes throughout the story. The Ignatius you see on page one is far different from the one you see at the end.
I found Joe Hill through the Amazon best seller list. For those of you who don't know, he is Stephen King's son, but don't let that color your view of him one way or another. He is his own writer. He is a great story-teller. Just read a sample of Horns and see what you think.
Make no mistake though. Horns is a horror novel. There are gruesome death scenes. Thrills. Sex. But it's all integral to the story and not used as a lure to keep you reading.
I give Horns 4 out of 5 stars. Why? Well, to reach 5 stars in the field in which I place Horns the novel would have to be as good as The Talisman or It or The Shining.
He's not there yet, but I have no doubt Joe Hill will reach the same level with subsequent novels.
I will read his other books, Locke and Key and Heart Shaped Box. NOS4A2 is on my list. If you are a fan of horror or thrillers, Horns should be on your list.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2010
Once I got past the first scene, which I found a bit confusing (horns? a fat girl pigging out on doughnuts?), I couldn't put this book down, and actually had to force myself to put it aside and parse it out in small doses to make it last longer. What drew me in and kept me there was how the reader honestly didn't know for quite some time whether Ig's horns were real, or just a figment of his tortured imagination. I loved how I wasn't sure myself whether Ig had murdered Merrin or not, and whether every evil thing that the secondary confessed to him was just part of an overall guilty psychosis. I found myself truly looking forward to each new character encounter, just to find out "what evil dwelt within the minds of men" (and women).
By the time I got to the middle of the novel, I could see where the author was flagging a bit, but I didn't hold it against him - I really wanted to see where it went and what would happen to poor, tortured Ig. I wanted to know if Merrin was the good girl she seemed to be, or if she, too, had the Devil inside. The rock-n-roll references got to be a bit much (and I had to roll my eyes at the Devil in blue dress bit), but this was SUCH a good exploration of the evil and the good contained within the human heart, and our ongoing struggle as humans to determine which side is going to win. Hill's writing style was so simple, yet so poignant, that I found myself reading certain passages over again ("The corn whispered frantically, spreading false rumors about him." "The wind caught her hair and did pretty things with it.")
I found the ending a bit frenetic and somewhat fantastical, but again, it IS a horror novel, and after all the buildup, it could hardly be something as easy as "the bad guy got his, and they all lived happily ever after". As the song goes and as Hill's characters ultimately discovered, you can't always get what you want, but you get what you need. In this case, that goes for the reader, too.
Despite a few flaws, this one is going on my keeper shelf, and unlike many second novels, I think this one was far better than Hill's first (A Heart-Shaped Box).
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2012
This book was recommended to me by a friend who said, "It's blew my mind." With that in mind I hurried out to buy the book, anticipating good things.
Joe Hill can write. He has a great command of the language and can paint a stunning picture. The book started well and I thought I would really love it, but the further in I got the more convinced I was that this was a journey I had no interest in completing.
The characters and action kept me reading for a while. I kept hoping I would start to make some sense of what was happening. But the characters did not touch me at all, and finally realizing I didn't care enough about any of them to keep reading, I stopped about three quarters of the way through the book. I hated to. After all I had time invested in it, and as I said, Hill can write. But In the end this dark story did not grab me.