Horns by Joe Hill

Horns

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 h...

Title:Horns
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0061147958
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:370 pages

Horns Reviews

  • Becky
    Jan 02, 2010

    Remember, way back at the beginning of the year, when I said that I wanted to hump Hugh Laurie's leg for writing

    ? After reading

    , and just the

    - not even the finished, shiny and perfect masterpiece - I want to hump Joe Hill's leg for writing it.

    Not too long ago, I read Hill's short story collection,

    , and in the intro, Christopher Golden says that Hill is subtle writer, that his stories are "promises fulfilled". I think that Golden's words about Joe Hi

    Remember, way back at the beginning of the year, when I said that I wanted to hump Hugh Laurie's leg for writing

    ? After reading

    , and just the

    - not even the finished, shiny and perfect masterpiece - I want to hump Joe Hill's leg for writing it.

    Not too long ago, I read Hill's short story collection,

    , and in the intro, Christopher Golden says that Hill is subtle writer, that his stories are "promises fulfilled". I think that Golden's words about Joe Hill are even more apt when it comes to

    .

    is Joe Hill fulfilling his promise to readers.

    is his promise to the world that he can keep pulling new and amazing tricks out of his bag, and each one will be better than the last.

    I'm sad that I'm finished, that it's over. I feel like I should just flip back to the beginning and read it again, because I know, without a doubt, that it will be even more brilliant the 2nd time around.

    Joe Hill's subtlety and brilliance is much more in evidence and has more effect in this book than any of his other books I've read. I don't even know how to gush enough to do justice to what I want to say! I feel like with every line that I read, there was another line behind it that added to the depth of the one I'd just read. The way that he wrote Lee was amazing. Seeing things through his eyes was truly scary and disturbing. (I don't want to give too much away about his character, but I will say this, I think that Joe Hill wrote Lee Tourneau better than his father, Stephen King wrote Junior Rennie.) When Ig sermonizes to the snakes, I was proud of him in that moment. Not simply for finally realizing that the snakes were his, but for his understanding of truth, and life, and love in that moment, and for accepting Merrin's decision that last night as being her right, even though it destroyed him. I feel like Joe Hill wrote these things, but then I also feel like he didn't write them, that he doesn't have to write them because they just seep out of the pages and into me. Merrin's letter is another one of those 'between the lines' bits. My heart hurt reading her letter to Ig, I felt like I was losing something myself, and I hurt for them. I definitely had some sympathy for the devil at that moment.

    Which brings me to my next couple of points. I love how music works its way into Hill's writing and stories, and the depth that it gives them. It's not just there for set dressing or for a pop culture stamp to place the story into a familiar territory for the reader, one gets the feeling that not only is music important to Hill, but that it is vital to him. I feel like he was speaking through Ig when he was appalled at Lee's lack of music appreciation, his plain statement that music is simply the background noise to events or action. Music is something that some people live and breathe, and I feel like Joe is one of those people, and because he is, so was Ig.

    I also loved the devillish humor inserted throughout the story. I love when a book can take me from one extreme to another, and this was no exception. I went from confusion, to shock, to laughter, to tears, to laughter, to more tears, etc. Every page brought some new revelation, and to me, Hill's timing with the humor and the heartache were spot on.

    I further loved the full picture of Merrin we got, even though we never got to really meet her. We got a composite of her from various other sources, like a police sketch artist making a picture from one person describing the nose, another describing the shape of the eyes, another giving us the hair, or the mouth, or the jawline, etc. Merrin's loss hit me like a ton of bricks, even though I knew about it from the beginning. But it still hurt, because I came to love her the way that Ig did - even though there was a brief time that I disliked her when I saw her through Lee's eyes. Even though I knew it was hopeless, I still wanted to hope that something would happen to magically reverse what actually DID happen. That was wishful thinking, but what I'm saying is that Joe Hill made me feel that way, despite knowing what I knew about the impossibility of that.

    I both loved and hated the way that people would spill their deepest and darkest thoughts to Ig, and I really felt for him having to endure the awful things that people thought about him. I couldn't imagine hearing those kinds of things from the people I love, and the people who are supposed to love me. Everyone claims to want the truth about how people feel about us, but I think that the plain, unvarnished truth is awful and unbearable. In my head, I can hear Jack Nicholson yelling, "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!" and it's true. I would have probably just crawled in a hole somewhere if people had said to me what they said to Ig. So, kudos to him for being stronger than I am.

    I think that's enough gushing... There's a lot more that I wrote down to mention, but I think you all get the point now, don't you?

    If you haven't already, read this book. Discover the greatness that is Joe Hill. I'm waiting! :)

  • Shannon
    Feb 23, 2010

    It's hard for me to rate this book. On one hand I was hooked within the first 20 pages. On the other hand though I found it emotionally draining and painful to read. There's a quote that Ig reads to himself that I think sums up my feelings as well:

    "It goes against the American storytelling grain to have someone in a situation he can't get out of, but I think this is very usual in life."

    I often read fantasy and paranormal books to escape the harsh realities of life. It's the same reason I don't w

    It's hard for me to rate this book. On one hand I was hooked within the first 20 pages. On the other hand though I found it emotionally draining and painful to read. There's a quote that Ig reads to himself that I think sums up my feelings as well:

    "It goes against the American storytelling grain to have someone in a situation he can't get out of, but I think this is very usual in life."

    I often read fantasy and paranormal books to escape the harsh realities of life. It's the same reason I don't watch the news or read it often on the internet. The most I normally expose myself to is the Daily Show and the Colbert Report because most of the time the news is full of death and horrible things. That's not to say that I'm completely ignorant of what's going on in the world, but seriously, turn on your local news and I bet most of the stories are about rape, death, and murder.

    I think this is sort of the reason I tend to steer away from horror novels and movies. I saw the first Saw movie and thought to myself, who would find something like this enjoyable? I just can't see the appeal of watching people suffer.

    I picked it up because of a recommendation from a friend at work. She enjoyed it and it sounded like it had just enough of a paranormal bent for me to be intrigued. I was literally hooked within the first few chapters but then when the story started taking place in the past things moved a little bit slower and I wasn't as enthralled as I initially was.

    Like I said, this was tough to read. Ig was blamed for the death of his girlfriend even though there wasn't any evidence to link him to the crime. He was a permanent person of interest though and he and his family suffered because of it. The things that Ig learns made me flinch as I read them. They're heartbreaking and terribly sad and they make you hate just about every character. As you learn more and more and realize the truth of what happened the night his girlfriend was killed you really just feel sorry for Ig. It's really a sad ending for a sad tale. I also thought the villain should have suffered more, but do they ever suffer enough for their crimes?

    I guess I can say I liked this book but I didn't like the way it made me feel. I want to read Hill's other books though because I think he's a good writer. I'm just hoping his other stories aren't as tragic.

  • Stephen
    Mar 13, 2010

    has the

    and his terrific

    catapults him onto my “authors-to-watch” list. I had some

    regarding what final rating to tag this with as I vacillated between 5, 4 and 3 stars depending on where I was in the book, eventually settling on a

    4. I don’t think this ratings quandary necessarily reflects uneven levels of quality in Hill’s execution. Rather, I think the back and forth resulted from the subtlety and complexity of

    has the

    and his terrific

    catapults him onto my “authors-to-watch” list. I had some

    regarding what final rating to tag this with as I vacillated between 5, 4 and 3 stars depending on where I was in the book, eventually settling on a

    4. I don’t think this ratings quandary necessarily reflects uneven levels of quality in Hill’s execution. Rather, I think the back and forth resulted from the subtlety and complexity of the story Hill was telling which caught me a bit off guard.

    You know how some works you go into knowing that you need to be focused and mindful of parsing sentences for hidden nuggets of meaning, while other stories you can come to far more passively and just sit back and let them entertain you. Well I think I came to this story expecting the latter and thus was not as “active” in my reading when confronted with some of the depth that Hill brought to this story. I’m not saying this is Joyce (and thank goodness for that), but Hill shows some surprising chops for digging into the underbelly of who we are.

    is broken up into 50 chapters, five main segments of 10 chapters each.

    :

    These opening chapters were a lot of fun and sported some wonderful dialogue (and monologue) as Ig, the main character, wakes up with a massive hangover and discovers, much to his “what manner of fuckery is this” surprise, that he has

    . In addition to the hat-handicapping appendages, Ig quickly discovers that he is able to provoke people into spilling their darkest secrets and into acting on their darkest desires. As Ig is struggling to come to grips with his new reality, we also learn that his life has been a deep dark place for many years following the brutal rape and murder of his girlfriend. Everyone, including Ig’s family, believes he is guilty of the crime though he was never tried for it.

    I was at an awe-laden

    for pure surface enjoyment and snappy dialogue and this section ends with a big reveal regarding the murder of Ig's girlfriend (Merrin Williams).

    :

    This second section of the book was the slowest part of the novel and the one I enjoyed the least. In it, Ig recalls his childhood and his early interaction with the main players of the story, Merrin Williams, Lee Tourneau and Ig's brother Terry Perrish. I found this section to be a serious downshifting to the pace established in Part I and I noticed that my attention began to drift. However, as I mentioned above, I think I may not have given Hill enough credit for under the surface meaning here. In hindsight, given how the story ended, this section provides some critical information that is essential to the eventual resolution and probably deserved a better effort from me while I was reading it. As it is, I had this labeled at 3.0 stars.

    :

    Ramping right back up into 4/5 star territory, this segment details the day of Merrin’s murder and had me fascinated and glued to the page. I don’t want to spoil this by saying any more but Hill shows a tremendous gift for exploring the dark in this segment. He must have had a very good teacher.

    :

    Here Hill switches gears again and shows us the world through the eyes of Lee Tourneau, Ig's best fried growing up. These are the best chapters in the book in my opinion. Lee is a superbly drawn character and his portrayal by Joe Hill is subtle, complex and brilliant. It was while reading this segment that I truly began to see that there was far, far more to this novel than simply a well-written dark fantasy.

    :

    The final 10 chapters tie the novel together into a very satisfying, though somewhat unexpected, ending. I thought the use of the "Treehouse of the Mind" was a nice device and showed Hill’s skill for imagery as he illustrates the battle raging within Ig. While part of me would have liked a little more clarification on the meaning of the treehouse, most of me was pleased that I was allowed to arrive at my own conclusion about what the imagery and I can't call that a bad thing.

    Overall, this was an excellent novel and one that I intend to revisit at some point as I think a second reading may provide a more robust appreciation for the story. For now, I think it’s safe to say that if you enjoyed

    , this novel may blow you away. Both Hill's writing and story-telling have improved significantly over his debut novel and I expect some truly amazing work from him in the future.

    This guy has talent and I like that both of his stories have been unique and "off the beaten path."

    4.0 to 4.5 stars. Highly Recommended!!

  • Kemper
    Mar 20, 2010

    Stephen King really messed up his son, Joe. It’s not surprising. The children of famous people generally end up as tabloid fodder, and with King as a dad, I’m shocked that one of his brood hasn’t gone on an extended murder spree.

    King spends all day thinking of the most horrific shit possible to try and scare the collective pants off the reading public, and he had huge substance abuse problems when his kids were young. So you gotta assume that the conversations went something like this:

    “Joe, get

    Stephen King really messed up his son, Joe. It’s not surprising. The children of famous people generally end up as tabloid fodder, and with King as a dad, I’m shocked that one of his brood hasn’t gone on an extended murder spree.

    King spends all day thinking of the most horrific shit possible to try and scare the collective pants off the reading public, and he had huge substance abuse problems when his kids were young. So you gotta assume that the conversations went something like this:

    “Joe, get Daddy another beer. And a mirror and a razor blade. First, tell me something. Would you be scared if I told you there was a clown in the storm drain waiting to lure you close and pull your arm off?”

    No surprise then that King’s son has grown up to write a couple of very disturbing horror novels. (And I also like that Joe uses an alias to avoid cashing in on the family name even if the secret is out.)

    Ignatius Perrish’s girlfriend, Merrin, was raped and murdered, and he was the prime suspect. An accident destroyed most of the evidence against him so he was never tried. The entire New England town he lives in thinks he did it, and so does most of his family except for his brother, a famous talk-show host. Grief has completely derailed Ig’s life, and he spends most of his time drunk.

    One night, Ig goes out and gets more wasted than usual. When he wakes, he doesn’t just have a hangover. He’s got a pair of horns coming out of his forehead and some surprising new abilities to go with them.

    I loved the early chapters of this and thought that it was going to be a book laced with dark humor about the nature of people and the hypocrisies of small towns. But the book shifts into outright tragedy and zeroes in on Ig’s past with Merrin and how her death has destroyed his life.

    While it’s always interesting, the book can’t really decide what it wants to be. Maybe Joe Hill should have written one book about the tragic aftermath of a murder and another about a guy who wakes up with horns. Because the two tones really don’t sync up well.

    There’s still a lot to like here, but I don’t think it delivered on the promise I saw in the early chapters.

  • Kelly
    Mar 27, 2010

    In order to enjoy this book for the disappointment it is, I suggest the following for the over 21 crowd:

    Take one sip every time...:

    Someone exclaims any one of: "No!"; "Oh my God!” “What ARE you?”

    A character or location from a Stephen King novel is mentioned.

    You want to slap the main character and tell him to man up.

    Merrin’s hair is described.

    The pace becomes inert.

    The word devil appears. (*Warning* you may get intoxicated from this action alone)

    The setting is either at the evil knieval tra

    In order to enjoy this book for the disappointment it is, I suggest the following for the over 21 crowd:

    Take one sip every time...:

    Someone exclaims any one of: "No!"; "Oh my God!” “What ARE you?”

    A character or location from a Stephen King novel is mentioned.

    You want to slap the main character and tell him to man up.

    Merrin’s hair is described.

    The pace becomes inert.

    The word devil appears. (*Warning* you may get intoxicated from this action alone)

    The setting is either at the evil knieval trail or Lee’s house.

    His style of writing makes you question if he really is King’s son.

    You revisit a scene/character that has already been described ad nausea.

    Take two sips every time...:

    Plausibility exits stage right.

    Something way too convenient is revealed, but then just as quickly is dismissed.

    The narrator repeats himself.

    An animal/reptile dies.

    After

    pages of unnecessary descriptions of inanimate objects and places, you realize he is King’s son.

    You can predict the outcome of each introduced character. (*Warning* this happens with every character)

    You yawn, doze off, skim, or rub your temple in frustration.

    Down the bottle every time …:

    You feel a headache coming on because just as it was starting to get interesting, Hill slips into the past without even a head’s up or Scooby effect.

    You start screaming, “Ok, but

    *And for all you tolerant drinkers out there who haven’t had enough, I DARE you to drink every time you think a question, any question, is going to be answered...

    *Sidenote:

    If you’ve found one likeable/fleshed-out character in this book – you’ve drank too much. Step away from the computer and dial 9-1-1.

  • Anzu The Great Destroyer
    Sep 07, 2012

    I need three things to make the hurt go away:

    and

  • Dan Schwent
    May 24, 2013

    Ignatius Perrish's longtime girlfriend was murdered and the whole town thinks he did it but he's walking free because the evidence was destroyed. After an all night bender, he wakes up with horns sticking out of his head that allow him to hear the thoughts of others. When he learns the identity of Merrin's killer, things start spiraling out of control...

    First off, the good points. Joe Hill's writing is a throwback to his father's early days, back when people had the guts to edit him and his stil

    Ignatius Perrish's longtime girlfriend was murdered and the whole town thinks he did it but he's walking free because the evidence was destroyed. After an all night bender, he wakes up with horns sticking out of his head that allow him to hear the thoughts of others. When he learns the identity of Merrin's killer, things start spiraling out of control...

    First off, the good points. Joe Hill's writing is a throwback to his father's early days, back when people had the guts to edit him and his still wrote like the bastard son of John D. McDonald and Richard Matheson. He paints an accurate picture of small town life and what it's like to lose the most important person in the world to you. Also, I found the sociopathic villain of the piece to be quite hate-worthy and couldn't wait for Ig to settle his account permanently.

    And now, the rest. I don't know if it was the case of wrong book, wrong time for me but I felt like the book didn't know what it was trying to be. Is it a revenge story? Is it about how death can devastate a small town? I felt like the story kept wandering away from the parts I cared about. While I felt Ig's pain, I didn't think he was a very well developed character. Lee was the only character of any substance in the book.

    Note that 2 stars does not mean I hated it. I felt it was okay but I couldn't help looking at the other unread books on my shelf and knowing I would enjoy a number of them more than this.

  • Matthew
    Nov 14, 2013

    Joe Hill writes from a dark and mysterious place. When I read this book, I was enthralled and uncomfortable at the same time. With every Hill novel I have read, the evil is unconventional and twisted. In this novel, the protagonist connects with the dark forces through mysterious horns growing out of his head . . . and it only gets stranger from there.

    My guess is that 9 out of 10 readers will have no idea exactly what happened, but there is a good chance that most of them will have enjoyed it (

    Joe Hill writes from a dark and mysterious place. When I read this book, I was enthralled and uncomfortable at the same time. With every Hill novel I have read, the evil is unconventional and twisted. In this novel, the protagonist connects with the dark forces through mysterious horns growing out of his head . . . and it only gets stranger from there.

    My guess is that 9 out of 10 readers will have no idea exactly what happened, but there is a good chance that most of them will have enjoyed it (I was one of those).


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