An Inexperienced Horror Review

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Joe Hill’s “Horns”

For those of you who don’t know… Joe Hill is the pen name for Joesph Hillstrom King, son of Stephen King. Yes, that Stephen King; The King of horror and supernatural fiction.

I have read exactly one Stephen King novel. Specifically, a movie script of “The Storm of the Century,” so I’m not certain it even counts. I’ve also read Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and only a handful of Edgar Allen Poe. However, I have seen the movie “The Shining” and I’m embarrassed to say only parts of “Pet Cemetery.” I’m sure there a few other horror films, but I don’t know enough about the genre to elaborate, so as you can see my inexperience is genuine.

However, my ritualistic behavior with the Tonight Show Staring Jimmy Fallon featured an intriguing interview with Daniel Radcliffe about his upcoming movie “Horns.”

Later, in that same interview, came the infamous Daniel Radcliffe rendition of Blackalicious’ “Alphabet Aerobics.” You can watch that on your own time. It is quit epic. Also, don’t miss out on  “A Young Doctor’s Notebook.” Fabulous!

So there I was, a fan of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series watching Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter himself) and hanging on to every word about this new book, “Horns,” turned movie! I had seen the book, I had witnessed the makings of Joe Hill‘s previous books, “NOS4A2” and “Heart-Shaped Box,” what’s the big deal with this book? I had to find out!


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. . .

The Movie Trailer


My Review

It took me a long time to read this one. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I was too busy to find time to read ANY book. My main goal was to read it before I saw the movie. (Check!) Now I’m just waiting to see the movie.

This book is entertaining, comical, heartbreaking, and horrifying all at once. I’m over the moon with the symbolism and foreshadowing used throughout. I feel like I was cleverly tricked into the belly of the story by a trail of enticing morsels. By the end of the book, I was stunned and perplexed by the plots severe turn into absurdity. **SPOILER ALERT** He can talk to snakes and they follow him. He lives in an old foundry after defecting. His dead girlfriends cross necklace is the only thing affects his horns. He can mimic voices. Making skin to skin contact with another person allows him to see everything about them, including their darkest secrets. A spontaneous tree house appears out of no where and seems to exist in a place where time does not. Hmmm…am I missing anything…OH YEAH! HE GROWS HORNS!! **END SPOILER**

Talk about relying on your reader imagination!

I’m more of a realistic reader. If I’m going to read something, I’m going to need it to have a somewhat plausible  explanation. I can accept the horns. I can even accept the power he seems to wield over people. However, when concluding this story, the loose ends of the supernatural are left to tie themselves in the readers imagination. After creating a story with such beautifully designed foreshadowing, symbolism and irony Mr. Hill just ends to book without justification. I cannot pretend to understand why someone would go through the trouble of artfully designing such a story, just to leave it unfinished.

I suppose that is why some people love horror fiction and others, i.e. me, only writhe in misery at its open conclusion.


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