Monday, October 28, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: Horns by Joe Hill

Joe Hill

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.
At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.
Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.
But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside. . . .

William Morrow


Rosy's scrawlings on Horns
I bought this book prior to the movie but read it after. I haven't, however, seen the movie at all and I think I'd like to keep it that way. Not for the movie possibly lacking but for liking the way I imagined the characters as is. That and I feel that some of the psychological tension may be lost for more straight horror in the interpretation. I'm sure I'll see the movie at some point, given that the hubby collects horror movies like I collect books, and I doubt I'll be disappointed but I am expecting quite a few differences. In cases such as The Hitchhiker's series I've no problem with changes but normally I tend to hold on to whichever I run across first for a while, letting it simmer in the mind, before approaching a new version.
Horns is a story that falls squarely into horror but after that it is a blend of murder mystery, paranormal horror and psychological thriller. The story is divided into sections and time distorted much like a Tarantino film, except with fewer manipulations (no-one divides up time quite like Tarantino). With all these elements in play the story takes a little while to build up. I personally found some sections far more engaging than others, either due to the pace or the sub-genre of the section. I suspect others will feel the same but may prefer different sections to those I picked. For me, the psychological sections were less engaging as I've read and watched many a thriller with a sociopath or psychopath - they have become the main way killers are written nowadays despite their numbers in real life being less that your plain old greedy or hateful criminal. I rather preferred the paranormal elements, which largely left me guessing what was about to happen purely because I've not run across quite this type of paranormal story before. Demons and angels and gods and devils abound in paranormal fiction, sure, but the paranormal parts of Horns do have an intriguingly different take on such characters. As to the murder mystery, while you don't have to wait until the end to find out who did it, seeing the mystery through Ig's eyes is more than enough to keep you satisfied. In all, I found that the blend of genres and sub-genres was really well done as it keeps you reading, even when certain sections slow the pace. There are, however, times when you might want to skim a section to reach the bit you're most interested in. I don't suggest doing so though. Just keep on reading. You'll appreciate doing so when the story wraps up.
The writing style is smooth, vivid and colourful, making it easy to imagine what's happening in the story despite the blending of several genres and sub-genres. Characterisation, emotions and motivations play a large role in tying the story together and these also happen to be the most interesting aspects of the story. The actual horns and the other changes to Ig's physical form are fun to follow though, as is the mystery of the moon. All in all I'd say this book is a fun, engaging book well worth reading.

I'd recommend this book to: lovers of horror, psychology, murder fiction, as well as those interested in christian mythology, demons and devils. I'd also suggest this book for anyone interesting in reading horror for the first time as the blend of genres allows for an easy leap into the paranormal.

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