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.
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I am so reassured after reading/listening to a Joe Hill novel. Reassured because he relatively young writing talent, age 41, who is on track to produce numerous future great book in the horror genre. I will always look forward to the next Joe Hill novel. Hill's writing is creative, exciting, in your face, and unpretentious. He is never boring and unafraid veer his stories in multiple directions within improbable situations.
Hill's best work to date is NOS4A2, but Horns (written 3 years before NOS4A2) is an absolute delight. This story of revenge is so inventive with multiple individual story lines that you need to wait for the last 20 pages to pull it all together. Horns also includes so many classic references to Lucifer and analyzes the ultimate role of the prince of darkness. Hill gives the reader a metamorphous of man into the devil with several interesting twists, ascribing him supernatural powers that would make most crime solvers jealous.
Having lauded Hill for the last two paragraphs, I must admit that with Horns, Hill is yet a fully matured writer. He is like a big-time home hitter who strikes out too much. There are few segments in Horns when the bottom drops out of the story. This most often occurs at the start of flashback scenes, where the action/drama abruptly stops and the author resets the story.
Many of friends criticize Joe Hill's writing as an identical copy as his father, Stephen King. I feel this the strength of Joe Hill! The resemblance of his famous father's writing style is something that almost every writer would wish for if they found a genie lamp. Overall, Horns is an exciting and creative audio book with excellent narration. Hill may have some pacing problems, but this book is fun. Using my personal rank order system of the best books I read over the last two years, Horns is 20th of 65.