Book Review: ‘Horns’ by Joe Hill

Posted: 8 March 2014 in Book reviews
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Ignatius Martin Perrish is the youngest son of a has been musician and a one time showgirl.  He had a seemingly perfect life.  He was going to England for the summer for an internship and an amazing girlfriend, Merrin.  But one year ago, Ig’s girlfriend was raped and murdered.  Though he was acquitted and released, everyone still thinks he did it, including his family and best friend Lee Tourneau.  No one has outrightly said it, but he can tell.  Now they are telling him.  After waking up from a drunken stupor, he is horrified to find himself the bearer of horns.  These horns have a strange effect on the people around him.  The begin saying things they wouldn’t normally say.  They reveal what they really think and wish they could say.  They do it in a way like they are asking him permission to indulge themselves in their darker desires.  At first he doesn’t know what is going on.  It all seems like a bad dream, a horrific nightmare that he can’t seem to wake from.  The oddest part is that they can all see the horns, but it doesn’t really phase them.

When he touches a person, he instantly becomes privy to all their secrets.  Not just what they have said, but all the dark deeds they have done in their life.  Their unrepented sins if you will.  Suddenly he knows everything about everyone he comes in contact with.  And what does he decide to do with this information?  Track down who really killed the love of his life.  What he doesn’t know, is that his search will lead him to places he never expected and people he would never have thought possible.  The hellish existence Ig thought he had has now become infinitely worse.  And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

You will have to forgive me for my synopsis of the book.  This is the first time I haven’t given a close summary of a book.  To be honest, I didn’t want to spoil it.  There are certain things I want you the reader to discover without me telling you, such as who actually killed Merrin.

So.  I have mixed feelings about this book.  I enjoyed the story, but not necessarily the composition.  I preferred reading the parts set in the present as opposed to the parts detailing the backstory.  The book is set up into five sections which include important parts in the backstory mixed with details of his current situation.  I understand the importance of knowing how Lee, Merrin and Ig became friends and how their relationships altered over time, but it felt like there was too much.  I would read it and wonder when it was going to be over so I could get back to the present and see how Ig was going to find out who killed Merrin.

And just to get this out of the way, I HATED the ending.  If this is one you don’t plan on reading, you ask me what happens in the end and I will tell you.  I was stupid though and so anticlimactic.  No real good came from that ending.  This is only one of two book endings that I have hated.

As for the characters.  There is nothing redeemable about any of them.  I didn’t feel any way to connect or relate to them.  I mean, I could obviously recognise how I should have felt.  The reader should feel sorry for Ig because he is the one who has been hurt by everyone, but I found it hard to even pity him.  Sure his anger is justified, but really?  Push your grandmother down a hill?  Goad a gay cop to make a move on his homophobic partner?  I guess it makes sense that he has turned into a demonic creature.  But I felt almost nothing for him.  If I did feel anything about any of the characters, it would have been Lee.  He was truly evil.  He is a liar, a manipulator, cruel, and he enjoys it.  He is the worst of them all.

I should also note that this book is for an adult audience.  There is violence, sex, language, and in general it wouldn’t be suitable for a younger audience.

So, my verdict like I said before was that it was ok.  I liked the premise and enjoyed how his did or didn’t affect people.  I expected more though.  Nothing surprised me other than how quickly Ig learned who killed Merrin.  I guess who did it slightly surprised me, but not enough to be disbelieving.  I give the book a ‘meh’.  If you’ve read it and liked it, tell me why.  Maybe I’m just being too harsh.  Anyway, if you decide to read it, I would recommend getting it from a library before you go and buy it.  Enjoy 😉

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