Horns by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow on March 1, 2010 (originally 2009)
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg: 3.92 (as of 2018-06-05)
cw: homophobia, racism, rape, pedophilia, torture, pretty much anything you could think of
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Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.
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 purgatory, 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, wealth, 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.
Y’all I had NO idea what to expect going into this one. I got this as a gift in a recent exchange and had been meaning to read it for a while (I’m hoping to get through all of Joe Hill’s work within the next year or two). I hadn’t reread the blurb and hadn’t even seen the trailers for the movie, so didn’t really know what the plot would be, just that it involved, well, horns. Let me say right away that this book is not for the light-hearted. There are some… pretty messed up things going on. People do and say the most heinous things you can think of. So, keep that in mind if you’re thinking about picking this one up.
He threw the bible into the trumpet case as well. There had to be something in there, some useful tips for his situation, a homeopathic remedy you could apply when you came down with a bad case of the devil.
That said, this is incredibly well-written and compelling story about a man trying to solve the murder of the woman that he loves. He runs into a few snags — namely the fact that he’s the main suspect. Oh, and the horns growing out of his head. Which do come with a few side-effects that I don’t want to spoil for you. I liked how the story was layered, switching back and forth between past and present. In some books this ends up being jarring, but Joe Hill does it well here. He knew how to time it and used it to slowly bring the full story to light.
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 power 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 wanted to make earth itself Hell for those who dare to love and feel.
If you’re a Joe Hill fan, you’ll probably like Horns. This was one I just couldn’t put down and I finished the last portion in a two-hour binge. I’d also recommend it for fans of horrors, thrillers, and mysteries, as it contains a little of each. The horror isn’t as much outright scary as it is unsettling, but I’d say that’s the most appropriate category to place it in.
She was innocent. All snakes were, of course.
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(Blurb and cover courtesy of Goodreads.)