Horns by Joe Hill Review

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Gollancz, RRP £11.99

Throughout this character-driven horror/fantasy cross-over, Joe Hill weaves a controversial tale of cruelty, loss, and revenge, combining it with a daring religious slant. As a stand-alone novel, the fragmented approach works well in an omniscient 3rd person viewpoint, instilling a sense of mystery as the tragic, yet empowering journey of Ignatius Perrish unfolds. This piece both horrifies and delights, and its gradual pacing made it a pleasure to absorb.

Iggy Perrish realised as he awoke one morning that he’d spent the night drunk, and had done some bad deeds. But although he’d predicted his hangover, and a splitting headache, nothing could’ve prepared him for what’d soon be peering back at him from the mirror: a pair of sharp, protruding horns. Languishing in pain for the last year, Iggy cannot haul himself from the clutches of the trauma he faced when Merrin, the love of his live, was brutally raped and murdered. Ig is lusting for answers, and the horns bring him just that; forcing even the darkest, cruellest confessions from everyone he meets, the horns unleash a power greater than he could ever conceive of. But soon the horns become a burden, and then his duty; the knowledge that his best friend Lee Tourneau is responsible for Merrin’s tragic end awakens the devil inside of him, and he begins his burning, torturous quest for revenge. His journey is teamed with religious aspects; a plague of serpants at his beck and call; fire that heals and strengthens his metamorphosis; and the horns, that can unveil priests as hypocrites. Ignatius delves into a new reality, with a new order; he’s the new lord of the underworld, and the boot fits pretty well.

Horns is a delicious examination of broad, hell-deep characters that boasts a controversial agenda of betrayal, love, cruelty and sacrifice of the darkest forms. After the success of Heart Shaped Box, with its startling, frightful imagery, Horns is a contribution to the genre that challenges even the works of the King himself, and is a substantial addition to Hill’s growing collection of pure, masterful suspense.
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