Book Review - Horns by Joe Hill
Most people have wished at some point in their lives for the ability to know what another person is thinking or feeling about them. Ig Perrish has just received that gift, and it's not working out so well. Couple that with the new set of horns that Perrish woke up with, and Perrish's life is headed downhill at terminal velocity. But at least his new abilities will help him figure out who really killed his girlfriend on a cold rainy night a year ago. That's the storyline in Joe Hill's latest horror novel titled Horns. I haven't read any of Hill's work before, and I must say this was very different and "out there." I found the constant time period shifts a bit disconcerting as the story would flash back to earlier times and work back up to the current crisis, but it didn't stop me from turning pages to see how the final showdown would play out.
Ig Perrish and Merrin Williams fell in love when they were quite young, and it looked as if they were destined to get married and live happily ever after. But right before Perrish is supposed to head off to England for some volunteer work, Williams decides it would be best if they saw other people to make sure they were right for each other. Perrish is devastated by the news, and gets plastered. He leaves her at the bar after an angry confrontation, and sometime during the night she is raped and murdered in the woods next to an abandoned building which is a popular teen hangout. Everyone is convinced that Perrish is the murderer, but nothing could be proved. Perrish maintains his innocence, and is completely lost without her.
As the anniversary of her death approaches, Perrish goes out to the spot where she was found and vents his drunken rage at the whole situation. In the morning, he wakes up to find he has a new body part... a pair of horns growing out of his head. When he tries to go to the doctor to get them examined and removed (because he certainly can't explain how they got there), he finds the horns come with a new ability. People looking at him forget the horns and start telling him their most darkest secrets and desires. And if he touches them, he can see their sordid lives played out in instant clarity. When he leaves, they can sort of remember talking with Perrish, but they have no idea as to the topic of conversation, and they don't remember the horns at all. This isn't so great for Perrish, as he finds out that most everyone in town hates him and thinks he murdered Williams. He also finds out far more about certain proclivities of the town's "upstanding" citizens. The only good he can see coming from this gift is the chance to get someone to confess to the killing, allowing him to even the score and exact his revenge. But even then, there's no guarantee that everyone will fall under the same spell and spill their guts. That's up to Perrish to figure out... who is telling the truth, and who is lying.
Horns is definitely a page-turner, as it's hard to tell exactly who is going to confess to what, and how long Perrish will be able to hold himself together before going completely off the deep end. Because the story is told in a series of flashbacks to bring you up-to-date with all the characters at the time of the killings, there's a fair amount of jumping around that makes the story a bit hard to follow at times. The ending was also a bit bizarre, or at least bizarre given the level of strangeness that's already established by this horror novel. Still, I'm likely to go back and read Joe Hill's first novel, and would be very much open to reading future works. If you're a fan of the horror/supernatural genre, Hill's a good pick.
Obtained From: Library