Horns is a devilishly funny read that'll make you question the very nature of good and evil. Horns is even perhaps the best Horror novel I've ever read, which I finished in three sittings and nearly didn't go to a friend's party just to get further. Yeah, it's that good.
Now, I'll readily admit I'm not a huge Horror reader so take it for what it is worth. Hill's first effort Heart Shape Box was too unevenly paced and also went off on a few too many tangents for me. The whole ghost standing around all the time just didn't give me a creep factor either, which is why I wasn't expecting amazing things from Horns. Boy, am I glad to have been proven wrong here.
Joe Hill's sophmore effort is without a doubt one of the best books released this year. I was totally engrossed from the second page in. Horns is dark, depraved, and fiendish in the most unexpected ways yet it is a Horror story with a heart. Two hearts in fact with the angst-ridden Ig and easily lovable Merrin both coming across as endearing and understandable characters whose deep love tear them apart. Rather than go into the plot here is a bit of the 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 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.Ig's powers lead to particularly lurid conversations, which examine the human thought process in dark ways as seemingly everyday people are prodded to say exactly what demented things are on their mind. Multiple flashbacks give insight into many of the story threads including 3 different character's POV for one incident, which worked better than I anticipated.
Horns is a writing exercise in perfect subplots, pacing, and characterization that achieves on every level. This is one of the few books I can't find any fault with in anyway. Well, I did figure out one aspect within the first couple of chapters, but the reveal wasn't any less enjoyable for it, especially as Hill pulled a couple good rabbits out of his hat to make it work.
Hardcore Horror fans may feel Horns doesn't go dark enough, but the story goes as far as it needs to in order to achieve the depth it required, which is quite touching, sly, and immensely clever. Still there are some disturbing parts that'll make some turn away. I give Horns 10 out of 10 Hats. Hill has raised his game to lofty heights and he has now made me an unabashed fan. I can't wait to see what he does next.
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