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4.0 out of 5 stars The Devil Has Never Been Prettier, 17 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Horns (Kindle Edition)
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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