Saturday, August 9, 2014

Horns by Joe Hill Review

Hey readers! Hope you are all having a great weekend! I am spending my time trying to knock out some books on my summer TBR! I have been in the grind lately turning out book review after book review, but none of them have been books I had personally sought out for myself. I wanted to take sometime to knock out a book that has been sitting on my TBR for years, but I've never had the time to devote to it. This time on the chopping block I have something totally new for you guys and unlike anything I've reviewed before. A true horror story with elements of fantasy and mystery. Up for review? Horns by Joe Hill! With the movie coming soon I couldn't think of a better time to check out this novel, though now I am super confused about how this film will play out. ANYWAY. Before we get to my thoughts, here's the cover, synopsis, author info, and the trailer for the upcoming film staring Daniel Radcliffe!

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 his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside. . . .

Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look—a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge. . . . It's time the devil had his due. . . .

Joe Hill

Joe Hill is the author of three novels, Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, and NOS4A2, as well as a prize-winning collection of stories, 20th Century Ghosts. He also wrote a pair of comics: Locke & Key and Wraith (which ties into the world of NOS4A2). Some nice people gave him an Eisner Award for his work in funny books, which is a great honor, even if “funny” probably doesn’t do a good job of describing the kinds of things that happen in the comics. Come to think of it, his comics aren’t very comic either

Find Joe Hill

Here's the trailer for Horns that was released a few weeks ago at Comicon! This film has been a LONG time coming, I am just so glad to see it finally almost here. The film releases on Halloween, October 31, 2014! It was filmed nearly 2 years ago and it's been a long journey to release day from what I have read!


My Thoughts:

I remember the day I first heard about Horns. It was when it had been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction my senior year of high school. I looked into it and thought it'd be a good read. Flash forward two years later to when I learned that Horns was being made into a motion picture. Intrigued, yet again, I looked into the book more seriously. I even went to the local library and check it out for myself. After doing some research on Joe Hill (and discovering his famous literary lineage), I thought this would probably be an awesome book, book look way too much for me to handle at the time so I didn't read it. All this time Horns has been on my back burner just waiting to be read. Now with my Summer Read-a-Thon in full swing, I no long had an excuse to not read it. Especially with the awesome trailer that was just released. I put life on hold for a couple of days and sat down to tackle this monster.

Calling it a monster is not too far off. Even for me, an avid reader, this was not an easy read. Clocking in at over 400 pages meant it was going to take me a little while to read anyways, Hill's writing style meant it was going to take me much, much longer to read through it. It was a slow pace and took all my energy and concentration, but I eventually pulled through. Thankfully!

Horns is unlike any novel I have ever read. I have read some of the works of Stephen King (my father is King's self-proclaimed biggest fan) and was a little leery about starting a book by his son. King's novels take a lot out of you. They are descriptive, scary, and oftentimes leave you with more questions than they answer. Hill and his father have a lot in common.

Many, many reviews have written that by the time they were 10 pages into Horns, they were hooked. Those same readers also say that once they got about 100 pages in, it took everything they had to finish the novel. It changes so much. I totally agree. The book starts out more on a campy, satirical note and then takes a nosedive. I usually don't use the book progress monitor on Goodreads, but for this book I did. All at once it seems like Horns turned into a true horror story. At times I was really creeped out and almost didn't know if I want to finish the book! Now that I have finished the book I realize that was probably Hill's intention. He executed it very well, in my opinion. Writing a horror story cannot be easy. Also there were snakes, lots of snakes... I don't do snakes!

The themes in Horns are numerous. Good vs Evil. God vs Devil. Family. The Loss of Innocence. Ignorance of Youth. Aging. All of these themes are prevalent and explained thoroughly in this book. While the book title may suggest a story about a man who grows Horns, what I got instead was a story of a man who essentially turned into Satan himself. A much different story than I was expecting. The biggest catch, however, was Hill's portrayal of "evil". Unlike most stories, the Devil isn't written to be entirely evil. More of an anti-hero. Talk about a twist.

The books characters were all very interesting and their development throughout the story was truly a work of art. Ig, our MC is deeply troubled and depressed after the rape and murder of his longtime girlfriend, Merrin. Accused of a crime he did not commit, Horns follows  Ig's journey to discover Merrin's true killer. Terry, Ig's older brother, and Lee, Ig's "best friend" are our two other MC's and play huge roles in the story. I wont say too much more to avoid spoilers, but trust me, these characters are awesome.

When it comes to the plot I have lots to say. This story is very long. And I don't just mean page length. It is very drawn out. There are long periods of time where absolutely nothing happens and then a bunch happens at once. The book does have quite a bit go action, you just have to read through man, many pages of memories and background to get to it. With that being said, this book is NOT something for the faint of heart and definitely not a novel that YA's need to be reading. This is an adult novel through and through: rape, sex, drugs, murder, violence, and some very disturbing thoughts fill nearly every page of this book. It definitely has a dark sinister feel about it nearly the entire time. In true horror story fashion, the ending is rather confusing and hard to grasp. I actually had to get online and read what other people wrote before I truly understood it. Just be prepared, this novel takes all your brain power and them some.

Hill is a remarkable author and really weaves a fantastic story. I am so glad I read Horns, I just don't think I was prepared for how heavy of a read it was going to be on both my emotions and mentality. I will say that I am very glad to have read it and will recommend it to any fans of the horror genre! I am giving Horns a 4-Star review overall! It was very slow and very confusing at times, but in the end it all panned out and was worth the wait. I am very excited for the film, but an very confused at how they are bringing some of the things from the book to the screen. If the movie is anything like the book, I highly suggest keeping the kids at home! Just saying! I may have to come back and add more to this review as my mind continues to process what I just read, but for anyone looking for a good, different read, check this one out!

Where can you get yours?
Graphic courtesy of Goodreads

I wont lie to you guys, this book was great, but as far as ebooks go, it was NOT cheap. I generally wont pay more than $5 for an ebook, but I made the exception with Horns since I have a few gift cards to spend. If you are interesting in checking out the pricing and picking up a copy for yourself, check out the above links!

Alright reader, that's all I have for you guys on the subject of Horns by Joe Hill! It was a great novel all around, but definitely different that what I was expecting. It was dark, full of mystery, and definitely was not an easy read. If you stuck it out for the whole story, I don't think you would be disappointed. As it stands, I am very happy to have finally ready it! Until next time, happy reading!



  1. I didn't know about this book or the movie until now, so thank you for sharing! I'm a little familiar with the author, though. I didn't finish Heart-Shaped Box for some reason (I think it was because it moved too slow for me), but it had that same sinister feel to it that you said this one has. I really like horror books because they feel so different than most of other books I read. They're interesting to read.

    I may try this one sometime! Great review, Ethan. :)

    1. Thank you for stopping by Kaitlin! I will admit that I haven't read as much horror as I would like. They are always great reads, but they usually take a lot out of you to read them! I've heard similar remarks about Heart-Shaped Box, but I just put it on my TBR list anyways. One day maybe I will get around to it! This film looks to be SUPER promising, but like I said in the review, I'm really not sure HOW they will be able to pull it off and still match the tone of the novel! Be sure to come back and let me know what you thought if you get a chance to read it!