Horns by Joe Hill – A Book Review

Horns Joe Hill

I am, unequivocally, a fan of Joe Hill as a writer. I first discovered him when I found a copy of his novel, Heart Shaped Box, on clearance in a little book shop and proceeded to read it in a couple of days without any urge to put it down. From there I went on to seek out more of his books and found his collection of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts, a comically diverse and intriguing blend of macabre and hilarious tales. When I heard that he was releasing another full novel, Horns, I was excited. I bought the book when it was released, and for some reason it sat on my book shelf, among hundreds of other books, for a number of months.

I finally picked the book up and was, like with Joe Hill’s prior works, entranced by his writing. You might even say that the book had “its horns into me”. I was hooked.

Horns tells the tale of Ig Perrish, a guy who wakes up one morning with a headache, goes to the bathroom, looks in the mirror and notices that, somehow, for some reason, he has grown horns overnight. He begins to find that these horns give him certain abilities, abilities that are as much a curse as they are a blessing. Ig comes from a well-to-do family, had a wonderful relationship with a girl named Merrin Williams and lived a fairly happy existence. That was, of course, until a series of events caused Ig to see his girlfriend fall from this mortal coil and find that he has become the focus of blame from most of the people he knows.

A sinister and dark story, Horns certainly isn’t for younger readers. Joe Hill has a realistic and urban extravagance to his stories, allowing a modern and comic-book feel to his writing that should appeal to fans of horror films and violent comic books. There are twists in the book that will keep the reader on their proverbial toes, not to mention the discourse between characters. The dialogue is fantastic, gritty and sometimes downright shocking. It all fits and creates a very ominous world that allow us to see this nightmare called life that the main character finds himself living in. The side-characters blend naivety and beauty in some, with insipid and psychotic in others, providing an unpredictable tone that often punches us, metaphorically, in the face with shocks and bizarre occurrences. 

You might, or probably will, be aware that this book has been adapted to the screen with Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) in the lead as “Ig”, along with Juno Temple as “Merrin”, among others. Now, I’m not entirely sure how they will do with presenting this film on screen if they are going for a full on recreation, but I’m excited to see it still. The trailer that has been released looks promising, so I will be holding a ticket in my hand when it hits cinemas later in the year. The few reviews I’ve read from people who has seen screenings of the film have been very positive.

This book is a great read and would be a good introduction if you are new to Joe Hill as an author. His newest book, Nos4r2, is on my bedside table and I’m reading it now, it’s yet another Hill book that I am hooked on. Check out Horns if you get the chance, it’s a brilliant mixture of horror, mystery, romance and tragedy with hints of humour to make things sparkle. So, grab the bull by the, erm, horns, and head to your book shop immediately.

Check out the trailer for horns HERE.

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