Published by William Morrow on February 16, 2010
Goodreads: ★★★ 1/2
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. . . .
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. . . .
Horns has been on my to read list for about a year now, and when I found a copy at an antique store for just $4.00 I decided to pick it up. I was instantly drawn in by this creepy story. Horns follows twenty-something Ig Perrish a year after his longtime girlfriend Merrin was murdered. Ig wakes up one day with horns on his head that give him devilish powers. He decides to use his new powers to find out who murdered his girlfriend and finally clear his name after being accused of the crime.
Horns is written in a nonlinear fashion. The book begins in the present day, but often flashes back to different times in both Ig’s life and the lives of other characters. While this means the writing was extremely well crafted, it also made the reading process very, very slow. I did really enjoy the flashbacks because they were integral to the story and allowed me as a reader to understand each character’s motives, but I had a very difficult time finishing this book! It was a very weird feeling, because while I was enjoying the book, I felt like it never ended. I really had to push through it.
In the same way, I wish we got to see more of Ig’s new powers in action. The fantastical elements of the story are really cool, and they are interwoven well with an otherwise contemporary setting. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning of Horns, where Ig was just starting to use his powers. I really would have liked more of Ig in the present day using his powers because they were so intriguing!
Moreover, Horns features a good discussion of what makes someone good or evil. It is very interesting that out of all the characters in the book, Ig is the one that wakes up with devil horns. Similarly, Horns makes me wonder about my own life, and what the horns would reveal for me. I think these elements of the book make Horns the perfect book club pick, as there is a lot to discuss!
Overall, while I think Horns is exceptionally written, I’m left a bit underwhelmed because of its slow pace. I also wasn’t a big fan of the ending, which I won’t discuss further as to avoid spoilers. I definitely want to pick up Joe Hill’s other books, especially NOS4A2. If you enjoy creepy and somewhat disturbing books, I do recommend giving Horns a chance. It’s perfect during Halloween, or anytime you’re in the mood for something in the horror genre!
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