Every October, I try to read Halloween-appropriate books. I love getting into the mood for the holiday, and even though I usually don’t go out (parties are not really my thing), I love curling up with some dark and spooky reads. This year, I was determined to pick up a book by Joe Hill, because I have a few of them, and hadn’t picked up any of them. On your advice, I decided to go with Horns, which has actually been in my collection the longest. It ended up being the perfect novel to read this time of the year!
(From Goodreads) Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.
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.
Prior to reading Horns, I had seen the film adaptation (though it was a few years ago) and really enjoyed it. So there weren’t many surprises, plot-wise. I went into this book knowing who the killer is, and, amazingly, that didn’t detract from the reading experience at all. Which is probably because the writing itself is incredible! Joe Hill definitely has a gift, which isn’t surprising since his dad is Stephen King. I definitely did see the Stephen King influence in this book, but Hill has a style all his own, and it’s great. Even if I hadn’t liked the story, I’d still want to read more of his books, because I enjoyed the writing that much. But I did like the story. And the characters. And the setting and pretty much everything else in this book.
One of my favorite things to read is stories in which something bizarre or supernatural happens, and the characters are left with no choice but to just accept it. Usually, I find it strange when characters don’t question these things, but it actually worked here. There wasn’t time wasted on explanations (something I struggle with in my own writing). I liked the backstories of each character, and how they played into the ending. I also really loved how most of the characters were a great blend of good and evil. Personally, I like characters that aren’t black and white, and this book satisfied my need for morally ambiguous characters.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book! Horns satisfied my need for a dark Halloween read. And while it wasn’t a five-star read for me, I would highly recommend this book if you’re into horror, or you’re looking for a great book to read this fall. I will definitely be looking into more books by Joe Hill. Let me know which one I should read next!