Horns by Joe Hill (2011)
“Ignatius Martin Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke the next morning with a headache. put his hands to his temples, and felt something unfamiliar, a pair of knobby pointed protuberances.”
That’s how this story begins. Ignatius Perrish (or ‘Ig’ to his family and friends), a seemingly ordinary person, wakes up after a drunken night to find he is growing horns at the top of his head. As if this weren’t strange enough, he notices people acting differently around him. When people see him they start confessing their worst thoughts to him, seemingly asking his permission to do bad things to other people. It isn’t long before Ig notices a connection between the horns and people’s behavior around him.
Then slowly the book’s main plot is revealed, and we discover that Ig is a man with a painful past. His girlfriend Merrin was raped and killed a year ago, and Ig was accused of the crime. Despite being cleared of the charges, he is still a social pariah, the whole town believing that his wealthy family paid his way out of trouble. Finally, Ig decides to use his newfound powers of persuasion for a real purpose: to find out who really killed Merrin.
Even though this book came out last year, I hadn’t heard about it until I got it as a birthday gift. Joe Hill also writes the graphic novel Locke & Key, a really enjoyable series which also comtains elements of the supernatural. He is also Stephen King’s son, and it really is creepy how much they look alike!
Horns is a great book. It’s a story of supernatural revenge which grabs ahold of you from the first page on. Ig is a truly tragic character. Living in the shadow of his perfect older brother his whole life, and taken advantage of by people who claim to be his friends, the only true happiness in Ig’s life was his lover Merrin. And when she is taken away from him, Ig becomes the ultimate irony: a good man who embraces evil to find justice for a life lost.
This is a perfect story for anyone who enjoys thrillers and crime stories. It’s more a story about revenge and the faces of good and evil rather than a supernatural story. It’s a sad book, but still quite moving in its own way. It definitely makes me want to go back and read Hill’s other books. But first I think I’ll dust off and re-read my issues of Locke & Key!