Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book review: Horns by Joe Hill

I first heard of Horns when I saw a publicity photo for the upcoming movie starring Daniel Radcliffe. The photo and the premise were both just intriguing enough that I went to my local library and picked it up. It will soon be added to my personal collection; I absolutely will be going back and reading and re-reading this one again.

Ignatius Perrish has a problem. And no, it's not his name. Rather his problem are the horns that have sprouted out of his head after a rather nasty drunken binge, and he has no idea why they are there.

Accused of the brutal rape and murder of his fiance, Ig Perrish has become a pariah. Shunned by nearly everyone he knows, including his family. The shadow of her murder hangs over him, regardless of the lack of evidence to prove or disprove his guilt. When he awakes with horns growing out of his head, Ig discovers that there is an unusual side effect to them, one that may help him solve the crime and give the devil his due.

The son of novelist Stephen King, Hill's writing is reflective of the days when his father was a writer who took his time to craft a clever tale that would draw you in and not let you go rather than the grisly hack he has of late become. Ig Perrish is a likable, tormented character; one with whom the reader can easily empathize while holding Ig at arm's length for what he does to those around him in his search for vengeance. Interlaced with a wry humor that gets injected throughout the narrative, the true horror of the story is quite Miltonian and comes when the reader finds him or herself sympathizing with Ig and cheering for him even when Ig reaches into some rather dark places of his own psyche and abilities in order to achieve his aims. Hill may or may not have been consciously paying homage to Paradise Lost when he wrote this novel, yet it is easy to see where the classic tale may have influenced this contemporary tale.

From the author of Heart Shaped Box (on my Read This Soon list), Horns is expertly paced and masterfully written. Be sure to read it before the movie comes out. From William Morrow and available from your local, independent bookseller. (Remember: you can make a big difference by shopping small business!)

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