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Horns: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, March 8, 2011
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“[A] compulsively readable supernatural thriller...Hill spins a story that’s both morbidly amusing and emotionally resonant. The explanations for Ig’s weird travails won’t satisfy every reader, but few will dispute that Hill has negotiated the sophomore slump.” (Publishers Weekly )
“Horns is a well wrought tale with intellectual merit. Not only are we entertained, we are challenged to think as well.” (New York Journal of Books )
“On the strength of two masterly thrillers—2007’s Heart Shaped-Box and his newest Horns—Hill has emerged as one of America’s finest horror writers.” (Time magazine )
“HORNS should bring even more fans to Joe Hill . . . he has his own style, and it is very accessible as well as fast-moving. . . . HORNS is a fast-paced, fascinating murder mystery/love story with a dash of the devil himself to spice things up.” (DreadCentral.com [horror entertainment review website] )
“[Horns is] devilishly good. . . . Hill is a terrific writer with a great imagination. He has a special talent for taking us and his characters to very weird places.” (USA Today )
“Hill’s survey of the question of suffering is a wild ride, as filled with thrills as his hero’s headlong plunge down to a dark and dazzling river.” (Seattle Times )
“The wise guys point out that the literature of horror fantasy tends to be both romantic and conservative. Normalcy is idealized and so precious that its violation is the essence of horror. Joe Hill’s sweet, fanged demonology takes us there.” (Oregonian )
“Horns is thoroughly enjoyable and often original.…a richly nuanced story. Fire and brimstone have rarely looked this good. ” (Los Angeles Times )
“A devilish, ingeniously designed story that positions Hill in the same realm as Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Lethem, and Stephen King.” (Pittsburgh Tribune )
“Horns is a pitchfork-packing, prodigal son’s take on religion…But the real meat of the story dissects man’s relationship with good and evil wihtout sacrificing a bit of suspense…Horns is a mesmerizing page-turner.” (Tulsa World )
About the Author
Joe Hill is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Horns and Heart-Shaped Box and the prizewinning story collection 20th Century Ghosts. He is also the Eisner awardwinning writer of an ongoing comic book series, Locke & Key. His new novel, NOS4A2, will be published in May 2013. You can follow Joe on Twitter, where he goes by the inspired handle of @joe_hill.
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And to be honest, I was a little confused. Because "Guy does bad stuff, wakes up with horns, makes people admit bad things" sound like the kinda thing I would've come across in my elementary school's library. But all the good reviews alongside a Bram Stoker Award had to mean something, right? So I bought it, anyway. And God, am I glad I did.
Within the first few pages, Hill creates a delicious sense of creeping unease--one which only builds as Ig is forced to play confessor and judge to his neighbors, friends, and family. And while identifying a killer becomes the main character's ultimate goal, what makes these moments great is just how real they are. People aren't confessing to off-the-wall desires. They're admitting to wanting and feeling and believing things many people might and likely would want or feel or believe in a similar situation without ever admitting to it. Beyond the creepiness and the darkness, thought, there's also a hilarity to many of the scenes in this book. Hill deflty blends comedy and discomfort over and over, again, as receptionists threaten children and doctors admit to addictions.
But while all these things are great--while all of them will pull you in and keep you reading--what really sets this book apart, and makes it one of my favorites is the beauty and the heartbreak of it all. There are moments in this book where I had to stop reading, where I had to sit back and give myself a chance to just reset. The depth of some scenes is astonishing, and those for whom I've bought the book or to whom I've recommended it have told me they've finished it in tears or were lucky no one was around as they began to sob. I felt chills while reading some scenes, and marvelled at how well Hill seems to tie it all together.
Now, I won't pretend I understand everything about this book. Some things still elude me. But what I do understand is this--Hill created something special with Horns, something the movie never stood a chance at doing justice. And if you're looking for a rollercoaster ride of feeling, you need to give this book a shot.
This guy has demonic powers and keeps getting his butt kicked?! C'mon that's as bad as superman vs batman. Even a lesser demon would have no problem with a mere mortal no matter how psychotic that person may be. The other reason I deducted a star was the setup of the book was all flashbacks which I don't mind but I thought he was going to try and figure out how he got the horns and with clues figure out what really happened to his girlfriend. Everything was solved through chance meetings and accidental physical contact. The concept for the novel was great the execution was good not great. I think this would have been better written as a short story or novella. I will continue reading his novels but for anyone expecting Stephen King quality he isn't there...yet.
Ig's mother and father want him to go away or disappear. His beloved grandmother, whom he takes for a walk in her wheelchair every week, thinks he is a murderer and only puts up with these walks because she feels she has to. We learn that most people who Ig meets have secret thoughts that belong in a mental sewer. (But perhaps we all do, at least sometimes).
We jump back several years to when Ig was 15 and the author describes how he and Merrin met -- in church no less. She dazzled him by by reflecting light from her crucifix into his eyes. (Readers of this book need to accept a lot of religious symbolism as well as pop music references). Their relationship is sweet. Not so sweet is Ig's friendship with the creepy Lee, the other central fulcrum of the book. We soon figure out that Lee is a sociopath, without a moral center. The last to realize this seems to be Ig.
Back to the devil with the horns. Ig sets out on a quest to discover who the actual killer is. He soon finds out and it is no real surprise -- but there is another mystery hidden behind this first one. And soon, Ig who looks like the devil, is wrestling with a real personification of Satan. The book grows more and more violent and detached from reality. It begins to drown in its own symbolism. We lose contact with the plot and our concern for the characters grows weaker.
This author has undoubted talent and the first two sections of this novel are masterful. Unfortunately, it veers badly off track after that, weighed down by its own symbolism.