Thursday, June 10, 2010

Horns

Ig Parrish did something terribly wrong last night. The problem is that, with the exception of one of two rather vague details, he cannot remember exactly what he did to earn the devil's horns that have suddenly sprouted from the top of his head. Ig does remember spending much of the night ranting about God and organized religion at the base of the isolated old tree under which his girlfriend had been murdered just a year ago. Now, unlike the hangover he had every reason to expect, he understands these horns won't go away by the end of the day.

He thinks maybe he deserves his new horns. After all, local law enforcement officers and just about everyone else in his home town believe that he has gotten away with the brutal rape and murder of his longtime girlfriend. Even Ig's parents are fairly sure that he did it, something he only learned accidentally by allowing his parents to see the new horns atop his head. The horns seem to compel others to speak aloud their deepest secrets - something they will not remember doing as soon as Ig and his horns are out of sight.

Horns is about Ig Parrish, an empathetic young man whose loyalty to someone who saved his life a decade earlier will come back to bite him over and over again. He has only ever loved one woman, a relationship that began when Ig met her in church when they were both fifteen years old. Suddenly, on one terrible night, she was snatched from him forever. But now, with the help of his new horns, Ig just might be able to make someone pay for what they did - or maybe not.

I almost gave up on this one. There is enough of what I consider to be a rather juvenile type of humor of the "gross out" variety that I was bored with the first quarter of the book. Then, Hill's humor became more subtle and the characters, although they are never all that realistic, became somewhat more believable. Horns has an intricate plot, one told by flashbacks in which the same action is sometimes recounted from more than one point-of-view. That device often works well for Hill but I was frustrated by the occasions when the repeating of a scene provided very little new information to the reader and only seemed to pad the book's almost-400-page length.

Hill, though, ties everything together in a satisfying ending that is well written and almost explains why Ig Parrish was gifted with his own pair of devil's horns in the first place. Frankly, this one turned out to be a good deal better than I would have bet after reading its first 100 pages.

Rated at: 3.5

4 comments:

  1. I think it is a tough gig being Stephen King's son, especially if you want to be a writer. I wonder how easy it is to read this book separate from the knowledge that it is by Stephen King's son? I am not really interested in this one, and have only read a couple of King's books, but by the sound of your review it seems that it works.

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  2. Definitely a "tough gig," Elise, and the reason that the guy writes as "Joe Hill" rather than "Joe King." I really didn't have any difficulty reading the book without thinking about the relationship although, every once in a while, something in the writing or the plot would remind me of a Stephen King book. Hill is definitely a talented writer and when he uses a more subtle style of humor he makes me laugh. This is one of those books that got better for me toward the end - about the last 20% of the book, especially.

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  3. I'm still stuck on your Mark Twain quote: "every time?"

    Why is he reading it over again if he hates it that much?

    I'm not a Stephen King fan, and I'm thinking I wouldn't care for this one either.

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  4. I think Twain was playing with our heads a little bit with that quote, Sherry.

    If you're not a King fan, definitely do not waste your time with King-lite.

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