Sunday, October 9, 2011

Horns by Joe Hill

As some of you may have noticed, I've been on a Joe Hill kick lately. Horns is classified as horror due to the supernatural elements, but it is really more of a drama. The story of Ig Perish, his brother Terry, his friend Lee Tourneau, and his girlfriend Merrin Williams.

The story opens with Ig waking up to discover that he has horns growing out of his forehead. He has no recall of the events of the night before. He quickly learns that his horns have a terrible power. People unwilling spew forth their dirtiest secrets and desires, asking for his permission to fulfill their darkest desires. The plus side of the horns is that they make people forget they are there, and forget their conversations with Ig.

We learn very quickly that Ig lost the love of his life, Merrin, almost exactly a year ago in a horrible rape/murder. He was the one and only suspect, the case was dropped when the evidence went up in a lab fire. Everyone in town, including his own parents believe he is guilty of murdering her. The only person that believes he is innocent is his brother, Terry. Hill tells the story in a non-linear fashion. We start in Ig's presence, jump back to the day in Ig's childhood when he almost drowns and meets Lee. The next segment jumps to right before Merrin's murder, where we learn that she breaks it off with him the night before he leaves for a new job in England. This is the same night she is murdered. We then move to the section titled "The Fixer", this gives us Lee's perspective on events. The final section returns us to the present after Ig has the horns and shows us the resolution of the story.

It may seem strange to some, but there is never a moment in the story that I believed Ig was guilty of the crime, despite the fact that he sprouts the horns and powers of the devil. This is the story of a decent guy who life is destroyed by heart breaking occurrences. There are a few twists, though if you are paying attention (or know a bit of abnormal psychology) you will probably guess them ahead of time. The emotional purity of his story telling that was glimpsed in 20th Century Ghosts is fully realized here. You feel for Ig and Merrin, and the tragedy that destroys them. You feel Ig's misery upon learning that his parents think he is guilty, his hope rekindled a bit when he knows that his brother never believed it. Ig's good heart when he forgives most of those that have wronged him.

Once again, I listened to the audio book. Be careful when driving and listening to this at the same time. It could be hazardous to your health. If you are eye-reading it, I suggest a box of tissues on hand if you are the type to cry at movies. Part of me thinks this would make an interesting film, but I fear it would be ruined by Hollywood. A devil as a protagonist may be too much for them.

I really enjoyed the ride this book took me on.