Our antihero, Ignatius ("Ig") Perrish, wakes after a night of his usual debauchery to find that he's sprouted horns. His new appendages come with a terrible--if sometimes terribly useful--ability to pull the truth out of all those he meets. As he continues his transformation into Devil, a murder mystery unfolds. Not so much a whodunnit, though, Horns is more of a why-does-anyone-do-anything, "what lies in the dark depths of man" novel.
Joe Hill writes some mean, spell-binding prose. It's lyrical and reads fast because he sucks me right in. He does meander a bit, but at least when he does, he tells interesting back stories. I watched the movie first, and my terrible memory doesn't remember it that well, but I don't think that it even scratched the surface of Hill's novel.
Though well-rounded as far as variety of character and an ever-more-involving plot, I didn't find that Hill adequately explained why Ig turned into the Devil. Hill throws a lot of ideas at us, as if to cover up the fact that he can't explain it. I feel a bit bamboozled, but Horns is fun and exciting, with intensely interesting insights and turns-of-phrase. The story of what Lee does to his mother is cringe-worthy enough to win the Jack Ketchum Award.
I am going to mention that he has his dad's belligerent view of homosexuality. As in King's work, Hill uses homosexuality as a prank, a punishment, or some villainous trait. I've never thought that King meant anything by it--just an old-school Maine blind spot. But Joe Hill represents a new generation. To some of you this may seem like a non sequitur, but this is important to me. If he's going to write about it, why does he think it needs to be some nasty secret?
Overall, a good read. Four Dweller Heads!
Review by Michael Schutz