Friday, 8 January 2016

Joe Hill's "Horns"

‘Horns’ is a dark fantasy novel that centres on the protagonist Ignatius “Ig” Perrish waking up from a hangover one day and finding he has horns growing out of his head. These horns help him to hear the deepest, darkest and sometimes most base desires of people around him and he decides that this new ability is going to help him take revenge on the person who raped and murdered the woman that he loves, Merrin Williams, though everybody seems to think he was the one to commit the crime.
The writing style was good and I enjoyed the fact that it began with the idea that Ig simply woke up and found the horns attached to his head. This part was enjoyable for me (and in part a little Kafka-esque) as it meant I was able to watch how Ig processed the information and how he was going to deal with the abilities he was given even though he didn’t understand how he had them. I can’t say I didn’t see all of the twists coming, because I did see a couple … but as if I am going to give them away here. It just means if you are looking for a completely unpredictable book, this one isn’t for you.
The novel is mostly from Ig’s perspective, though other voices do show up in other forms, as the power of the horns gives insight into other characters’ thoughts and history. One of the character’s Lee is given a few chapters to himself, which worked well in solidifying the plot line and adding some depth. There is also some criss-crossing between the past and the present to add back-story and differing perspectives. Depending on how you like your writing style, depends on whether you enjoy the jumping back and forth.
Ig as a character is solid. Watching the transformation from a character that seemed incredibly wholesome to someone who begins to use his devilish abilities in other ways works well. Whether this gives him a degenerative quality or a more human quality is up to the reader. Personally, I preferred it as I find wholesome, small town characters much less interesting than if you give them something to transform through. Merrin is kept rather innocent throughout the novel as a character, and the device works; though you could argue in terms of the remaining characters of the book it makes her less human. Whilst I would consider that a flaw in the development of her character, I can understand the fact that keeping her as innocent as possible works as a device when she is the one who is raped and murdered.
‘Horns’ looks at human nature, good and evil, and tries to show you the grey of these two themes. It attempts to show you that all human nature isn’t necessarily what we see on the surface, and that people can do all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons when they live in that in-between grey area of good and evil: human nature itself lies there. This makes it overall a solid novel with characters I didn’t necessarily like (I don’t think you are necessarily supposed to love all these characters), but are written well to show us, perhaps, ourselves. It was definitely a fun read.
3.5 / 5

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