If you are not getting enough drama from the daily news, if you are looking for a paranormal story of death, murder, betrayal, rape and revenge, look no further than Joe Hill’s Horns.
Ig Perrish wakes up the day after the one year anniversary of his girlfriend’s death. He drank way too much the night before, did something he can’t remember, and woke up with horns growing out of the middle of his forehead. When he’s around people they tell him all kinds of dirty secrets, the stuff they want to do and how they really think, as if he’s their own personal demon that they can confess to. And with this new ability, Ig finds out what his friends and family really think about him and the mystery of who really raped and killed his girlfriend slowly unfolds.
I think I can safely say the story is bloody good but it’s not actually a story, but two. One of Ig and Merrin’s childhood romance that grows bigger as they grow older, the other is the story of Ig after his girlfriend was murdered and he was cleared from her murder due to insufficient evidence. After a night of heavy drinking, he wakes up to find horns poking out of his forehead and finds out the mysterious power they give him:
He can hear people’s darkest thoughts, darkest desires, deepest and most shameful secrets and he can make them act upon them.
Now that’s a superpower I wish onto no-one.
Once I stepped into the world of Ignatius Martin Perrish, I didn’t want to come out again. My first thought was that Joe Hill definitely has his father’s deft storytelling hand but then, after a while I realized that no, he actually doesn’t. He has his own talent and his own voice. This does not feel like a Stephen King book and it’s definitely one unique and imaginative story.
Joe Hill writes in precisely the manner that most appeals to me. I became entrenched in the story almost immediately and his characters are the biggest part of that. He has that genius ability to connect the reader with his characters on an emotional level and then gradually peel back the layers of truth that define them. I found myself drawn to Ig from the start, only to discover him in a totally new light by the end of the story. And it’s not just the ones you love – even the ones you love to hate are superbly developed.
There is some mystery involved, since Ig was suspected of raping and murdering his girlfriend Merrin but no one was ever convicted of the crime and we don’t know who really did it. I think the question is less “who killed Merrin” and more “who is Merrin, who is Lee, who is Terry and who is Ig?” As you gain history and personality from each of them, the truth of what happened starts to take shape. Even when I thought I could see it coming, I was still pummeled by it until the very last page.
This book has so much. Story, atmosphere, character development, emotional connections, love, hate, horns, the devil inside us all. And a pitchfork. It also has a pitchfork. Gotta give this one all five.
There are a few other things to mention. The book was far more than a tale of horror, or one solely meant to scare its reader after the lights are out. It is a love story, a mystery and a tragedy. I continually sought to guess the outcome of the succeeding chapters, but for the most part my guesses proved to be wrong. (Note: If you decide to read, I guarantee you will want to know the answers. The wait makes these moments special). While I was busy guessing, I had grown to like Ig very much. He’s one of the better protagonists I’ve met this year. Ig is this mix of strength with frailty, a guy with emotions and flaws, take the good with the bad.