Reviewer: “Horns” is a devilishly good read

Stephen King’s son showcases his talent in this dark novel

4 out of 5 stars

Joe Hill, born Joseph Hillstrom King, is the son of famous horror author, Stephen King. Wishing to gain notoriety for his work, rather than his famous lineage, Hill adopted a nom de plume and only revealed his true identity years after receiving praise for his work. His novel, “Horns,” demonstrates his skilled storytelling ability that requires no namesake to bolster.

Hill’s novel is a dark fantasy based in a small New Hampshire town. The protagonist, Ignatius Perrish, awakes one morning to discover horns growing from his temple and satanic powers under his control. This occurs the morning after a particularly difficult evening in which Ignatius copes destructively with the one-year anniversary of his girlfriend’s rape and murder.

The true strength of “Horns” comes from its fantasy elements, as Hill fully explores the consequences involved with becoming a devil overnight. The imaginative realm created by Hill leaves no gaping or distracting plot holes and instead offers a well-reasoned and unique perspective.

It is apparent that Hill has done his research and the result is a multi-cultural and thought-provoking perspective on what ‘evil’ really means in our society.

Despite this rich storyline, it is sometimes at odds with the other major plot element to the novel: the tragic rape and murder of Ignatius’ girlfriend.

At times, it seems as if these two narratives would be better served if given their own space to develop.

Discovering more about Ignatius’ relationship and the aftermath of the tragedy was heartbreaking at times and charming at others, but the necessary attention needed to develop the devil plot often cast a shadow over this otherwise meaningful secondary storyline.

Additionally, the devil narrative provided compelling commentary on small towns that could have been further explored in consequential depth had the novel not been forced to address Ignatius’ loss.

However, the two did join well in ultimately aiding Ignatius’ quest for a better understanding of the tragedy that stole the life of his beloved girlfriend.

The only other complaint I feel inclined to address is the pretentious nature of the main character’s name. Ignatius Perrish is far from an approachable or reasonable name and generally served as a distraction to the book given that Ignatius is the most referenced character.

The novel largely shortened Ignatius to ‘Ig’ or ‘Iggy,’ but this did little to aid the unrelatable nature of his name.

Admittedly this is an inconsequentially minor point but I found Hill’s choice to be odd, especially when the rest of his characters were given unique but more approachable names.

Overall, I would suggest the book to those looking for a dark and thought-provoking tale. Its engaging plot and striking characters will anger and entice you as a reader, though I must mention that this novel is far from family friendly.

One of Ignatius’ devilish influences forces those around him to indulge their darkest secrets and desires. As mentioned earlier, Hill fully explores the fantasy element, and these dark secrets are no exception.

In other ways as well, Hill aims to and successfully accomplishes in revealing the sinister side of mankind.