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4.2 out of 5 stars232
4.2 out of 5 stars
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
I think that Joe Hill has managed to tap into a genuine primal fear with this novel. What if you could read their minds with a single touch? Now part of you might be thinking, `this would be great'. But I'm going to have to disagree. Could there be anything worse than knowing exactly what the people around you think of you? I am sure the reality would be a lot like the situation depicted in Horns. You would immediately start to learn things that you just didn't ever want to know. I don't think it would take long to discover that underneath the thin veneer of society a lot of individuals are way freakier than they appear on the surface. Ig Perrish learns this the hard way as he descends into his own private hell. The good news is that the reader gets to follow him, every step of the way.

I should stress that it's not all doom and gloom though. There is some welcome dark humour particularly when Ig tries to master his new powers. He takes some amusing, if slightly petty, revenge against those that have slighted him in the past. I couldn't help but feel that all the various characters got exactly what they deserved in this regard. Almost without exception, everyone wants to see Ig just disappear, so it seems only fair that they get what is coming to them.

This is the first novel by Joe Hill that I have read and I was heartily impressed. The main protagonist is placed in a terrible situation and I was compelled to follow his journey. The novel is very dark but also surprisingly life affirming. There are some flashbacks that cover Ig's first meeting with Merrin and the beginning of their relationship. These add additional depth to the characters and made it easy to empathise with Ig's predicament.

At the novel's core this is a story about understanding the key components of relationships. The relationships between Ig and Merrin, Ig and his family, and Ig and his friend Lee are all examined as Ig is forced to confront the ugly truths in his life. Horns is an intimate story that provides fresh insight into the nature of love, longing, jealousy and revenge.

If you like the idea of giving Mr Hill's work a try you could do a lot worse than start here. On the strength of Horns I now look forward to picking up his other novels.

Phew! I managed to get through this entire review without mentioning Stephen King once.....oh damn.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2010
Well I bought this on the recommendation of a friend. I knew nothing about it and didn't even read the blurb on the back of the book and I have to say, for me that is the way to read it!

It's a wonderful book from the very stylish and cool cover to the unpredictable and bonkers plot.

I will give nothing away other than to say pretty much anything can happen, the easily offended and possibly Daily Mail readers should steer a path round it! And it has :-

A Great story, lots of twists and turns, it's sad, funny, gripping and has a cast of great fully realised characters. It's not really a horror or ghost story...I don't quite know how to catagorise it in fact, and I'm not sure I need to. Just read it and see what you think.

I have read a few great books this year, The Brother's Grossbart and Killer of men to name two but this is right up with them. Joe Hill is an author to be watched and has a real gift for story. Enjoy the ride!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2013
Ignatious Perrish (Ig) is the prime suspect in the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin, who died a year ago. No charges have ever been brought, but everyone, including his own family, believes him to be guilty. On the anniversary of Merrin's death, Ig goes out on the mother of all benders, urinates on the Virgin Mary, and wakes up the next morning with horns. He soon discovers these horns have the power to make people reveal their darkest secrets to him and after having some fun with it, he inadvertently begins to discover more than he bargained for about Merrin's murder. In between present day chapters, the tale flashes backwards to Ig's teenage years, telling the story the will eventually end in tragedy to explain what is happening to Ig now.

The story is a great idea and the sprinklings of humour are very well done. However, where it loses me is when it suddenly diverges to flashback and stays there for chapter after chapter with no warning. There is no segue, leaving the jump feel out of place. There is also a fair amount of what seems like filler. I feel the book could have been a hundred pages shorter without really losing anything. There is excessive description of people and events that aren't actually relevant to the tale. I found myself skimming quite a lot.

This isn't a mystery as we know whodunnit fairly early on. I suppose it could be a coming of age tale, but the flashbacks feel too disjointed for that to be fully realised. It seems like a book that could have used a firm hand from an editor. The sudden changes in setting, time, place and tone don't really work for me and made it difficult for me to settle in to the story and properly care about the characters.

The ending felt rushed and didn't offer anything that felt like a resolution for me. Not that I need everything wrapped up in a neat little bow, but we'd been expected to sit through a lot of ups and downs and excessive description for very little pay off.

With all that said, I didn't actually dislike this book. It had many strong ideas, the premise was interesting and the Perrish family were very well realised. It just felt like it kept "almost" being excellent, but stayed at "quite good" instead.

I've enjoyed Locke & Key - Hill's graphic novel - and I am happy to read more from the author. Hill is clearly a talented writer with a head full of creative ideas. This one maybe just wasn't completely for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2012
Helen H says: Kafka meets Milton meets unknown others in Tragi-comic, complicated easy-reading love-horror-thriller. Gripped me from start to finish. Appears simple in many ways, but the complexity underlying is compelling and very readable. The novel works on various levels; philosophical, in parts intellectual, in parts dark comic, in parts psychological, and in parts love story - parts, parts, parts ... But it remains intact as a whole. The characters are well written and believable - and his playing around with the ideas of perception, belief and reality are entertaining, enthralling, un-nerving, familiar and refreshing. Joe Hill has a wonderful writing style which is both unfamiliar and familiar - a book to read in one sitting, or visit again. Go for it, it won't take up much of your life and you won't come away from it with regrets thinking 'well that's time I'll never have back again'. I've never read this author before, but if I come across other stuff he's done I'll give it a go. I didn't give it a 5 star review, simply because I would have liked a little less romance and a little less satisfying closure - but that's personal and I'm hard to please - well done Joe Hill - 4 star +. A brave, bold and almost fairy-tale-like quality makes you want to keep reading just to see where he's going with it next - it must have taken a lot of concentration to keep it under control - at times it felt like the book had a mind of it's own. Christian purists may be offended, or they may even claim it for their own - I do hope not. Freudish fans could see it as a study of multiple personality-like conditions - or schizophrenia even. I get the feeling a reading club discussion held around this novel would be very interesting and entertaining.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2012
This was amazing. Im a reader not a writer and therefore i dont have the words to put how i felt about this book into action. All i can say is how happy and refreshed i was after reading this incredible story. Its about time i found a new favourite writer and Joe Hill your now it. Keep writing. Going to start on Heart shaped box later, cant wait.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2014
For those who don’t know, Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King. And even though having a famous author for a father clearly helped Hill’s work gain extra exposure, that doesn’t detract from his obvious skills as a writer. If Heart-Shaped Box showed a debut author with flare, good humour, a twisted mind, and heaps of potential, then this novel solidifies him as a serious talent to keep an eye out for.

Horns is the story of Ignatius Perrish, a young man who wakes up one morning with a hangover, horns on his head, and the ability to hear people’s deepest, most evil thoughts, with just a touch of their skin. And even if he doesn’t touch them, they tell him their sins anyway, unknowingly pouring out their darkest desires to him. He doesn’t want to know, they don’t want to tell him, and yet it happens.

I want to screw my daughter.
I’m attracted to dogs.
I punch my wife in the ribs when no one’s around.
I defecated on my boss’s car last Christmas.

The confessions stream out, and at first, the story follows Ig on his journey, from house to house, person to person, following him as he comes to terms with this painful—but hilarious for us—power he’s been cursed with. Or maybe it’s a gift, something he soon realises: a way for him to finally uncover the truth of his girlfriend’s rape and murder. Ig has been suspect numero uno for as long as anyone remembers, and despite the case being thrown out of court due to a lack of evidence (it was all burned up), the town still thinks he did it. They know he did, and they hate him. And so using his newfound curse/gift, Ig is able to find out some answers and eventually piece together the sick and twisted puzzle of his girlfriend’s murder, which ultimately leads to a big showdown and a satisfying ending.

And aside from the initial concept (which probably started off as a cute idea for a short story that gradually developed into something bigger), the novel itself is packed with so much more than just a gimmick: it’s the perfect onion novel. Every time you think you know about a character, or a scene, Hill peels away another layer to reveal a different facet to the story. Layer upon layers are stripped as each chapter progresses, twisting the plot in multiple directions, and drawing the reader in deeper to Hill’s beautifully drawn world of darkness and fire.

The writing is strong throughout, the dialogue sharp and witty, the plot well-thought out and executed, and the themes of redemption and the power of sin are all intricately woven into the text, neither feeling obtrusive, forced, or preachy.

If the book is any indicator of Hill’s future, then I imagine he’ll soon become just as big and successful as his father, both with critics and fans alike.

And rightfully so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
What I enjoyed most about Horns was Joe Hill's wicked insight into human nature and he really did need to get that right because it's central to the entire plot of this novel.

26 year old Ig Perrish suddenly sprouts a pair of Satanic horns from the front of his head. The horns gift Ig with the power to read people and see their true nature, thoughts and deeds. He's also given the power to manipulate and distort reality. Both themes are cleverly done and all at once darkly disturbing and horribly funny.

As the plot begins to move along we learn much about Ig and it's difficult not to sympathise. This once safe, secure man from a professional, wealthy family has lost almost everything due to his involvement, or not, in the murder of local girl Merrin Williams. Ig's life is on the skids well before the Horns appear and events continue to spiral further out of control once they arrive as Ig is drawn deeper into the mystery of Merrin's death and his desire to find out more.

That's about it. The plot is reasonably straight forward but; Hill has added so much complexity with layer upon layer of character exploration, background and relationship detailing this is quite a gripping novel and difficult to put down.

I don't really think of Horns as a horror in the truest sense of the word. There's not much here, apart from the Horns, that's either demonic or supernatural. The horror elements come in the form of a glimpse into human nature and what really lurks beneath the skin.

I loved the character of Ig, he's such a wreck but so pathetically likeable it's impossible not to bond with him. Ig doesn't really do anything too bad, most of the 'bad' is done to him, but he's like a naughty child with a new toy when he really starts to use those horns.

Didn't scare me at all, wasn't particularly dark outside of the details of Merrin's murder but I mostly enjoyed the read and thought the characters particularly good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2010
When Ig Perrish wakes up after a night of drunken self-pity, he finds a pair of enormous horns sprouting from his forehead.

This is only the first in a series of uncomfortable transformations: people share their darkest secrets with him, he can flawlessly imitate other voices, snakes gaze at him longingly and there's even a bit of awkward fire-breathing.

The demonization of Ig Perrish is only the latest thing to go wrong for him. Ig's been the town outcast for a year - ever since his girlfriend was found raped & murdered on the edge of town. Merrin had just dumped Ig (in public), so the popular sentiment has varied between 'string him up' and 'set him on fire first'.

Ig quickly discovers that the horns (and everything that goes with them) aren't a full-on curse, as much as they are a mixed blessing. With their eerie, mind-altering abilities, it doesn't take him long to discover the truth behind Merrin's death. The challenge, however, is in what he can do about it.

In Horns, Joe Hill writes a deliciously & aggressively blasphemous book. The town's stockpile of good Christians (including the pastor) are quickly revealed as unpleasant hypocrites. The role of God and prayer are challenged from start to finish - with Ig repeatedly reaching the same conclusion: while God is an absentee parent, the Devil's got humanity's best interests at heart. Perhaps the high point is Ig's own sermon on the mount - at the moment he accepts his fate, he declaims his new vision to an audience of snakes. The speech is tender and hilarious (the Devil is pro-Love and anti-polyester).

But the sympathy for the Devil shtick isn't where Hill's true daring comes into play. In Ig, Joe Hill has created an omniscient, omnipotent, invulnerable protagonist. And, yet Horns is neither boring nor predictable. Just because Ig knows everything doesn't mean he's put it all together - he's got the power of the Devil, but the mind of an ordinary guy. The mystery is unravelled one tantalizing piece at a time, culminating in a sequence of genuine surprises and revelations - and one hell of an explosive climax.

Horns is an absolutely brilliant piece of work that snared me from the first pages. Initially in awe ("How could this possibly keep up for an entire book?"), I was very quickly absorbed in Ig & Merrin's story. For a book that stars the Devil, this is a very human drama. And for a second novel, Hill's already written his name in the (five-pointed) stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2012
I didn't even realise that Joe Hill was Stephen Kings son untill i read the blurb on a short story they wrote together called "In the tall grass" decided to purchase "Horns" and see how a stand alone novel by Mr Hill turned out,i wasn't disappointed.The story begins with Ig perrish waking up after a night of,well we dont know what as he remembers little to nothing,all we know is he feels like death and seems to have grown a pair of horns overnight,as the story proceeds we find that people seem utterly compelled to reveal their worst to Ig,including his own family,who confess their true feelings for him.We also find out some shocking revelations from his friend and brother over the death of his one and only true love Merrin who was murdered the year before,a murder for which Ig became a suspect and was never fully cleared.I just couldnt put this one down,how you come to love Ig and feel for his predicament.Its graphic and jolting in places which is what you would expect from the son of one of the best horror writers of all time,i highly recommend this book,i read it in a day as i just couldnt put it down sustaining a headache in the process,which was totally worth it,this book will stay with you long after you have finished,and i know that at some point i will pick it up again,and find things i missed first time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2012
As Ignatius Parrish awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found he had grown a pair of horns on his head.

The above isn't the Kafka-esque first line of Joe Hill's second novel, but it could well have been. Ig Parrish, son of a famous father (as well as sibling to a famous brother) and boyfriend of a murdered girlfriend, awakes one morning with a pair of horns on his head. At first these strange new ornaments terrify him, particularly when they allow him to hear the innermost desires of the people he meets and even to encourage them to act on them. But gradually he starts to embrace the horns, and unleash the devil within him.

Without a doubt this is one of the more Interesting horror novels I've read in a while. Hill embraces this intriguing concept and enthusiastically runs with it, to produce a sharp and entertaining read. If I have a quibble it did feel a bit padded at points (and another [small] quibble, there is a jarring - self-referential by remove - moment of referencing his father's debut novel, the kind of trick which can really jar a reader from the narrative), but this is one of the most original and thought provoking thrillers I've got my hands on for quite some time.
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