Thursday, April 8, 2010
CBR Book#37: Horns by Joe Hill
(Just a note to say that I didn't give up on the CBR. I just tried to be like gp and read outside of my comfort zone. It was a complete failure. So I went back to what I like.)
Ignatius "Ig" Perrish has been in love with Merrin Williams since he was 15 years old. They met in church when Merrin used her cross necklace to flash light in Ig's eyes. That was also the first time that Ig ever saw his future best friend Lee Tourneau. Both boys are smitten with the flame-haired Merrin, but it is Ig that she wants.
Ten years later, Merrin has been raped and murdered and everyone is sure that Ig is the sex fiend that did it. Ig is miserable and living with Glenna, someone that he doesn't really love but makes due with. Near the anniversary of Merrin's death, Ig gets extremely drunk and drive to the foundry where she was killed. He destroys the shrine to her and pisses on his feet and a statue of the virgin Mary. This is where his memory stops.
The next day he wakes with a hangover and a set of horns growing from his forehead. He sees Glenna in the living room where she is compelled to confess things to him. That she gave Lee a blow job in front of three or four other guys in a parking lot. That she wants to make him disgusted with her. That she wants to eat a box of doughnuts by shoving her face in the box and eating them like a pig. Ig has no idea why she is telling him these things, but he gives her permission to gobble up the doughnuts, which she does. Ig decides he needs to see a doctor about the horns, which he isn't sure are real to anyone but him.
In the doctor's waiting room, other people begin to make horrible confessions to him. They also ask permission from him to act on their worst impulses. So begins Ig's transformation and his journey to find out just what happened to Merrin on the night that she died. Hill does a great job with switching between Ig's present, his past, and the viewpoint of other characters. He gives you bits and pieces of the story before punching you in the gut with what happened and what could have been.
I don't see this as a horror story. I see it as a love story, a thriller, and a supernatural tale. I see fate, destiny, and redemption in the pages of Horns. Hill is great at breaking your heart and then making you giggle. He doesn't try to give you a million characters to keep up with and he fleshes out the ones he chooses to share. I feel like Hill will be giving us many other excellent books in the years to come. At least, I hope that he does.