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Horns: A Novel by Joe Hill
Review by Steve Sawicki
William Morrow Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061147951
Date: 01 March 2010 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Ignatius Martin Perrish spends the night drunk and doing terrible things. He wakes the next morning with a wicked hangover and a pair of horns. At first he thinks nothing of it but when he finally gets a good look at himself in the mirror he can no longer deny that he's not the man he was when he passed out.

Ig is not having a good life. The son of a renowned musician and doting mother and brother to a late night television star, Ig's future was crushed when his childhood sweetheart, the woman he planned to marry, is found raped and murdered on the very night Ig is to leave for a new job in London. Everyone thinks Ig did it but managed to get off thanks to his father's power.

It's been a year since the murder and Ig has drifted from place to place, unable to leave but also unable to live. Now he has horns and a budding new power which evidently makes everyone he encounters tell him their innermost desires, thoughts, and intentions. Ig also discovers that he can help nudge people in those directions with little effort. As he ponders these new found abilities he starts to come up with a plan for revenge.

This is the second book by Joe Hill, who is the son of a famous horror writer, and who's first book, The Heart-Shaped Box, was not only well done but well received. This time he's delving into some similar themes--who we are as people and how the dark twisted insides of us sometimes get the better of our judgments, as well as how society twists and turns on dirty little secrets that many know but none speak of.

The book is well done, bouncing between present day and Ig's struggle with the horns and his new powers, and flashbacks of Ig's life growing up. Some will say that there's a bit too much of the past and not enough of the present but if that's the case then the balance is not that far off. The book is listed as fantasy horror and I would say it's definitely more fantasy than horror.

I found the book to be enjoyable. I also enjoyed Hill's first book and found his characters well done and fairly unique in terms of voice. The pacing of this book is a bit slow in one or two places but in neither instance does it drag and overall it's quite balanced. the story was definitely interesting and Hill is showing that he has the skills to establish himself as a major player in this market. Definitely a recommended read.

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