"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Horns by Joe Hill

Despite there not being enough evidence against him, Ignatius Perrish remains the prime suspect in the brutal rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin. Believing  Ig to be guilty, his friends and family have abandoned him, and in the eyes of the public he is a demon; Ig’s life has become hell. A year on from Merrin’s death, Ig wakes up from a night of heavy drinking with a bad hangover, a blurred memory, and large devil-horns protruding from his temples.

The concept of Horns is strange, original and intriguing, and the plot itself lives up to the premise; it is completely engaging and exciting. There is not a dull moment and I felt eager throughout to know what was coming next; the numerous twists and turns really kept me on my toes.

Horns is brilliantly written and the style is reminiscent of Stephen King's (Hill's father). If you enjoy King’s works, I should say you will definitely appreciate Hill’s genius too. There is a lot of depth to the narrative and it is littered with hidden meaning; every tiny thing that happens is relevant and important to the overarching plot, and it sometimes feels as though Hill is leaving little clues for us to ponder over. The characters are well painted and realistic - I particularly appreciate how well Hill wrote Lee Tourneau, Ig’s ex-best friend and possibly the most interesting character.

As well as combining dark fantasy with horror, Horns offers an interesting juxtaposition of dark humour with raw emotion. The demonic Horns give Ig certain powers, with which he hopes to find and take revenge on the real culprit of Merrin’s murder. When people speak to him, the Horns compel them to gush their innermost secrets and darkest desires which at times result in some amusing, if slightly sickening, confessions. At the same time though, Horns is a resonant and emotional novel. Once the story gets going, Hill lays off the humour and focuses on the horrific grief that can shatter people’s lives when trying to come to terms with bereavement. Hill also highlights the devastation that is felt when those you love abandon you when you need them the most - at the very beginning some Horns-compelled confessions are amusing, but later on when Ig hears what his family truly think of him they are extremely saddening. Horns, although enjoyable, was at times incredibly heartwrenching which was something I was not expecting going into it.

Horns is not your average horror novel in that it is not particularly scary or gory, and has a distinct romantic and emotional aspect. Don’t let that put you off though; it is one of the things that make it stand out. This dimension adds another level to the novel that a lot of horror books, focusing more on shocks or carnage, often fail to achieve. Horns is a superbly written, original and imaginative novel, with an interesting supernatural revenge-fuelled plot which manages to balance dark humour, horror, fantasy, romance and poignancy perfectly.

Rating: 10/10

My other Joe Hill Reviews:

In the Tall Grass


  1. Horns is one of my favorite novels! So glad you enjoyed it :)

    1. It really is a brilliant book. I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did!

    2. I recently discovered 'Horns' after reading 'Heart Shaped Box' and really enjoyed it. He's a chip off the old block without being derivative. I look forward to reading his collaboration with King.

    3. I haven't read Heart-Shaped Box - a friend who has very similar tastes to me didn't care for it so I haven't got round to it yet. If the collaboration you are referring to is In the Tall Grass then it's brilliant! I think they wrote another short story together called Throttle.

  2. Thanks for bringing this over, Jessica. Cheers

    1. You're welcome Carole, thanks for inviting me. I hope you enjoyed reading it.