Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The language of sin was universal, the original Esperanto

I tried to write this review of Joe Hill's Horns over the weekend. I started it by apologizing for not posting more last week and blamed Franzen for it*. And then I realized I should probably give some thought into a readalong schedule cos I hadn't done that yet. Then I was exhausted after putting that together and decided instead of finishing up (or really starting) this review my time would be better spent with a West Wing marathon. Which I now realize sort of gives the impression that I didn't enjoy Horns and the opposite is true. I'm just very easily distracted.

I won a copy of Horns from Kayleigh** which is awesome and thank you for that! I really didn't know anything about it before her review (which you should check out) except that Harry Potter was going to be in this weird movie where he plays a guy that has horns. It's also written by Stephen King's son, but I guess he doesn't want you to know that cos he changed his name. Of course if it was really a sekrit he wouldn't have done that NYT article. I don't know if I would have figured it out had I not known they were related before I started reading it, but I kept getting the feeling that if you told me this was a Stephen King book, I wouldn't have even questioned you.

So, right, the plot. Ignatius Perrish wakes up one morning with a particularly heinous hangover and, oh yeah, he's grown horns. Things had already been pretty shitty for Ig. His long-time girlfriend Merrin had been found raped and murdered a year earlier and even though charges were never brought up against him everyone in town assumes Ig did it, and he got away with it because of his families money and connections.

Ig's still trying to get a handle on the whole horns thing when he wanders out to the living room and he sees his roommate/fuck buddy Glenna sitting on the couch. She doesn't seem to notice the horns. She does start telling him weird things. Not just telling him things, like how she gave a friend of theirs a blog job the other day, but asking permission from Ig to do things she knows she shouldn't. It seems these horns make people want to confess their deepest desires and are just looking for an excuse to act on these impulses. Ig's become a devil-on-the-shoulder for everyone he goes near, even though Ig isn't a particularly devilish character. But he's been given an opportunity to perhaps find out the truth and perhaps move on. And now the book becomes a whodunnit/revenge thriller.

I really loved Ig's character. He's not what I expected, which is good, because the character I was expecting would have been boring. Ig is tortured by Merrin's death and by the fact that everyone has turned on him. He's so hurt and he has no one. And he has no idea what happened to Merrin. He only knows that he's innocent, despite what everyone may believe.

The book is a lot of things. Like I said above, it's a whodunnit and a revenge story and a thriller. It also provides some interesting insights to "the devil inside" and there's some dark humor there. Oh and supernatural, you know, what with the horns and all. But it does a good job keeping everything from getting too muddled.

I agree with Kayleigh that I liked present day Ig and that story more than the flashbacks. I liked the flashbacks and thought they were interesting and they added some good twists and motivations to the present day story. But then went on for a long time and I kept glancing ahead to see how long before we got back to horned Ig. Maybe if those sections had been broken up more I wouldn't have minded them as much.

Overall this was a great book. If you like King (Laaaaura) you should give Hill a try. If you're not a fan of horror maaaybe give this a pass, although I wouldn't say this is necessarily a scary book. It's a very good book. I realize I only mentioned Ig and obviously as the main character you spend the most time with him. The others seems wrong to say "fun" to watch but I was invested in their stories. Even when at times I wanted to turn away.

*Expect to see me blaming Franzen for a lot of things over the next month. Subway delays? Dammit, Franzen.
**She also sent me these crazy chocolate candy bars that have pop rocks and jelly beans in them. I'm pretty sure we have no equivalent of them over here and I think this just means I'm going to need to make a trip to her land to stock up.

Title quote from page 255

Hill, Joe. Horns. Orion Books, 2010.