Horns a novel by Joe King

Minor spoilers included in this review.

I finished reading HORNS by Joe Hill. After finding out that he is, in fact, Stephen King's son, how could I not read one of his novels. I decided that if I liked it, I would read his others as well.


A year after his girlfriend’s murder, Ignatius ‘Ig’ Perrish wakes up to find he has grown a pair of horns. These are no ordinary horns though, as they compel people to tell Ig about their darkest secrets and sins. When he touches them, he can see all the evil they have committed… what better way to find out who murdered his girlfriend, Merrin.

I did like it. Just like his dad's books, this one was easy to read, interesting, and in almost every way an enjoyable book. I would never suggest that Joe Hill learned to write from his dad by rote. He has his own style and vocabulary. As where Stephen King has a deserved reputation as a writer of great books with weak endings. Joe Hill's ending to this book is just fine. Very satisfying. I closed the book after reading the final page thinking - that was good.

and then I started to think about the story. First, let me back up a little. As I read a book I keep track of loose threads that need to be tied together before the story is complete. I keep track of little flags that are raised when things don't seem to gel. When I finished reading Horns, much like the characters in the book who fell under the spell of the horns, I seemed to forget about the threads and flags.... for about an hour. Then I remembered. The book made no sense at all.

I went through the internet looking for reviews and analysis of the book that would put things in order. That would show me that I missed the point. That something deeper was being said in the book and I just missed it. I found no such explanations. I was left with the conclusion that I just read an interesting and fun book that could easily have been outlined by a committee of non-writers then turned over to a good writer to fill in the blanks. The end result is a good book that upon closer examination is dumb. Character motivation that demonstrates the foundation of who they are is suddenly contradicted. The "bad guy" is a cliché. He's a clinical checklist of what makes a person bad. And here's the kicker, we never really find out why "Ig" grew horns or became a demon (or maybe the devil himself). We are left to except that these things just happened; a good person, pure at heart, literally turns into the physical manifestation of evil while retaining his good nature. He doesn't become a monster. No, just a guy who lost his long time girlfriend then, one year later started growing horns.

Overall, reading Horns was time well spent. Vulgar popcorn novels have a place on the bookshelf right beside more profound literature. Horns is gritty and graphic and some may find it disturbing, but as one critic put it "it's about as deep as a kiddie swimming pool." On an intellectual level, I think that criticism is giving it too much credit.
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I just watched the movie and I found the acting to be surprisingly good! They did the best they could with such an absurd story.