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Horns: A Novel by Joe Hill
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Horns: A Novel (edition 2011)

by Joe Hill

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2,4151962,572 (3.81)221
Member:thessaly
Title:Horns: A Novel
Authors:Joe Hill
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:None

Work details

Horns by Joe Hill

  1. 50
    Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (sturlington)
    sturlington: Better Joe Hill, in my opinion.
  2. 64
    The Shining by Stephen King (level250geek)
    level250geek: Stephen King's seminal work of horror, this book also confronts evil and humanity, putting in the reader's face things they'd rather not see.
  3. 20
    Mike Careys One Sided Bargains by Mike Carey (level250geek)
    level250geek: Adapting the story of Faust in three unique ways, Carey examines humanity's relationship with sin, temptation, and evil.
  4. 10
    Ghost Story by Peter Straub (ktoonen)
  5. 00
    Come Closer by Sara Gran (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: Similar plotlines and styles, though the narrative in Come Closer is more personal and Horns more distant.
  6. 00
    Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (ktoonen)
  7. 33
    Paradise Lost by John Milton (level250geek)
    level250geek: Hill was obviously inspired by this work, which frames Satan as a tragic hero, much like the way Ig is characterized in Horns.
  8. 01
    You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: If you like the darkly humorous aspects of Horns, you may like You Suck. Like Horns, You Suck has paranormal elements, and the protagonist has to cope with newly found powers after a mysterious occurrence.
  9. 01
    The Mailman by Bentley Little (ktoonen)
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Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)
I read this while waiting in endless lines at Comic Con. It was amazing at helping me pass the time! ( )
  imahorcrux | Jun 22, 2016 |

3.5 stars

“You think you know someone. But mostly you just know what you want to know.”

Of course I know by now that Joe Hill is none other than the son of the nearly worshipped Stephen King. I keep seeing praise in my feed and groups about his work, but Horns is my first taste of what he's offering. I'd seen - and loved - the movie on Netflix a few months before reading this.

Since the book and movie are so similar, there weren't surprises waiting for me. That soured it a little but I still loved the story. It's inventive and surreal, sort of like a parable vibe horror tale that uses symbolism but refrains from being preachy. It's hard to say what it all means, but that's part of its appeal.

Joe Hill gets brownie points for being original and daring. There's dark humor that pops up to be played with, but overall it's a richly dark tale. I'm judging it to be a horror-drama piece, but its not frightening in any suspenseful way. The mystery is strong since the main focus for the character continues to be finding out who killed his girlfriend, with the side story of his horns being another mystery in the background.

The book wins when it comes to the villain because I was able to be inside his head, understand his views more and see the pure evil that existed. There was the strange situation with his mother and demented glimpses into his childhood. In the movie he wasn't done that well, but I have to say I actually prefer the main character in the film. Hill writes a little dryly when it comes to emotion, so to me Iggy was too distant with the way his feelings were written. I grew into that writing style later as the book progressed, but it made it harder to grab me in the first half.

Seriously trippy scenes were awesome - especially with the snakes, his bizarre relationship with the other characters, and that creepy horn making people tell the truth and act on their true impulses.

I've seen some reviewers write that this book didn't know what genre it wanted to be or what direction to go in, and they're right. It reads at times like a horror piece, but then it turns completely around tries to be a mystery, to then turn around again and be a drama piece for awhile. That doesn't bother me since I actually like those quirky books that combine so many genres it almost comes across mentally confused.

It's not a perfect book - the other characters other than Iggy were stronger with emotional depth- but the story was intriguing. I'll definitely give Hill another go in the future.



( )
  Paperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
I stayed up way too late to finish Horns by Joe Hill. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I was hooked within the first few pages, there's a twist about a third of the way through, that you don't really see coming, there are flashbacks and there is gossip. People confessing their deepest desires, secrets, wants, needs and then not remembering they shared them. The main character, Ig Parrish, is as likable as a man who just grew horns and is a suspect in his girlfriend's murder can be. Plus, Joe Hill is the author! I was recently turned on to him by my very good friend Pamela, who is a fan of his Locke and Key graphic novels. I've read several of them and find his writing to be twisted, fantastical, and edgy. With all this going for it, I thought I would *love* this book. I don't *love* this book. I'm ambivalent about this book. The beginning was wonderful, just creepy enough to thrill but not keep me up at night, well, not any more than usual.

Here's the thing, there are two violent episodes in this book that I couldn't handle. I don't like violence against animals. Horns has a scene, and I believe that Hill was trying to make a point, that this man was and always had been a psychopath. However, the senseless killing of the cat, chilled me to the core and I had to put the book down and take deep breaths before continuing. Secondly, I don't particularly care for the use of rape scenes/violence against women in books or movies. It's one thing to allude to the fact that it happens. I understand making it a part of someone's story. I mean, it happens, and to bring attention to it, is to make people think and hopefully help victims speak out. However, we know it happened from the beginning, so a the end, I didn't need a detailed description of how it went down. Plus, Hill overuses certain words and phrases, and that annoys me. Do we really need to say "Fuck" 100 times? Or OH MY GOD...What ARE you?

I say all this, and yet, I gave it three stars out of five. I enjoyed 45% of the narrative. At one point I was thrown for a loop, mind blown, and I had to stop, email a friend, and freak out about it. She wasn't even reading the book! Those moments are so rare for me, and I had one with this story. Yet, here I am, practically tearing it apart. I just wish the novel revolved more around Ig's Horns, people confessing their sins to him, and less about his back story. The elements were there, but they didn't come together for me. ( )
  pennylane78 | Jun 6, 2016 |
I decided to finally get round to reading this novel from Joe Hill after it had sat on my shelf unloved since a great book-buying binge in early 2013. However, unlike many books which I get around to reading after a long period of procrastination, I did not love Horns. But nor did I hate it. In truth, there was not enough in it to inspire in me either a great liking or a great distaste. Peculiarly but aptly given the subject matter, Horns soon began to nestle into an indifferent middle-ground, a sort of critical purgatory.

The idea behind it is arresting; a year on from the unsolved rape and murder of his girlfriend Merrin, a young man named Ig wakes up from a self-pitying drunken stupor to find he has grown Satan-like horns from his head. Now he can hear the darkest innermost thoughts of the people around him, and he uses this new power to try and find out who killed his beloved soulmate.

The problem is the execution. I feel I should point out straight off the bat that Joe Hill is an assured writer; the prose rolls along easily and the characters feel human. I have not read much by his famous father, Stephen King (Joe Hill is a pseudonym), but Horns did seem to be in that vein: creepy supernatural goings-on in small-town America. I don't believe in all that guff about children inheriting their parents' artistic gifts – I've always been on the side of nurture over nature – but the similarities in tone and style are uncanny. All I'll say is King is not shamed by his literary association with Hill, and Hill's style is developed enough to be judged on its own merits rather than as his father's son.

However, there are some kinks in Horns that just won't iron out no matter how much heat Hill applies. For one, Ig finds out the identity of the real killer quite early on; there are no misdirects or building of suspense – we just find out. Consequently, the initial mystery is lost and the rest of the sizeable novel is a rather sludgy process of the villain getting his comeuppance. The only new facts we are fed go into how it happened and why, but these only add shade to the existing picture rather than presenting us with admission to a wider gallery.

The supernatural stuff also lacks a thematic baseline, or at least a robust and coherent one. Even now, I don't see the method or the meaning behind the horns. So is the Devil the good guy or the bad guy – the anti-hero cleaning up the dregs of society or a tempting villain drawing Ig away from goodness? I get the impression from Hill that the former is intended, but how to explain the boon of Merrin's cross? Or the 'treehouse of the mind' stuff? Or whatever the hell was happening in the confusing ending? No explanation is even given as to how or why Ig grows the horns; no underlying mythology to explain how such a thing could come about. It asks a lot of the reader's suspension of disbelief: the reader soon stops asking questions as it becomes clear no answers will be given. The theological ideas don't go anywhere and seem to be only loosely bolted onto the story, like a spice added to a rather mundane dish. Horns cannot be called a morality tale: the ending is, if you think about it, not a happy one or even a vindicatory one. The bad guys got theirs, even if it cost them in the long run, whilst the lives of the good guys were irreparably destroyed.

And, to be honest, it is this which is responsible for most of my negativity towards the novel. It is unceasingly bleak. Ig can read people's thoughts, and it seems that in Gideon (Ig's hometown) everyone is a sexual pervert. They don't just think these things, like many ordinary people might do, but act on them: the thoughts Ig reads are not mere thoughts but cover-ups of depraved things these ordinary folk have done in the past. And it goes beyond mere sexual perversion. Parents secretly but passionately hate their children. A waitress glories in providing unrepentant false testimony to the police. One man presents a public image of caring for his sick mother, who has dementia, whilst privately torturing her. This is less small-town America than a carbon copy of Sodom and Gomorrah. No one in the story ever seems to do a decent thing for another person; tonally, the novel feels off.

These are nasty details, and unnecessary in a novel that is already about something incredibly tragic: the rape and murder of a young woman and the guilt her devoted boyfriend lives with, a guilt made worse by knowing everyone thinks he did it (even, secretly, his parents) and that the real killer got away scot-free. It seems at times like Hill is just trying to concoct a smorgasbord of the most depressingly evil things he can think of and cramming them into a story that cannot really take such weight and strain. For example, at one point the real killer taunts Ig by saying that his girlfriend climaxed when he raped her. Particularly when this later proves to be false, it seems to be a detail added by the writer just to make things that little bit nastier for everyone involved. I am not a delicate flower by any means but, for all the craft of its author, Horns was an unpleasant struggle for me to get through.

Consequently, I feel entirely unconcerned that Horns rests in my own personal critical purgatory. The writing was too good for me to trash the novel, but the depths to which it sinks are too low for me to want to reach down and lift it higher. Reading Horns was like driving in a car with wobbly wheel bearings: it'll get you to where you're going but you might be a bit woozy when you get there. And you'll wonder if it was worth making the journey in the first place. There's not even a shred of escapism in this supernatural-fantasy novel: the good guys lose hard and the bad guys coast through life. The best of the cynical writers who chronicle the dark side of humanity and human society recognise the artistic need for darkness to be juxtaposed with even just a sliver of light, but this chiaroscuro is almost completely absent from Horns.
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
Ig Perrish wakes up one morning with 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?

The subject of the book had me interested. The idea behind the book was great... but the execution? it got really boring, really fast and just felt like it took forever. Also, the whole backstory on how he got his horns... how confusing can you get with that? I had to re-read the explanation over and over again. 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.

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. In the end this dark story did not grab me. Joe, you can and have done so much better.
( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)
Thoroughly enjoyable and often original... a richly nuanced story... fire and brimstone have rarely looked this good.
 
Mr. Hill, whose outstandingly inventive first novel was “Heart-Shaped Box” (2007), is able to combine intrigue, editorializing, impassioned romance and even fiery theological debate in one well-told story.
 
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Epigraph
Satan is one of us; so much more so than Adam or Eve."
--Michael Chabon, "On Daemons & Dust"
Dedication
To Lenora--love, always
First words
Ignatius Martin Perrish spent the night drunk doing terrible things.
Quotations
The best way to get even with anyone is to put them in the rearview mirror on your way to something better.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Book description
At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private pergatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealthy, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more - he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring and unlikely midsummer magic.

But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside...

Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look - a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge...it's time the devil had his due.


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After his childhood sweetheart is brutally killed and suspicion falls on him, Ig Parrish goes on a drinking binge and wakes up with horns on his head, hate in his heart, and an incredible new power which he uses in the name of vengeance.

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