Book Review: Horns (Joe Hill)

Publisher: Gollancz

Pages: 437

Release Date: June 2nd 2011

Summary (from Goodreads):

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with one hell of a hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.

Once, Ig lived the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned American musician, and the younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, Ig had security and wealth and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more – he had the love of Merrin Williams, a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

Then beautiful, vivacious Merrin was gone – raped and murdered, under inexplicable circumstances – with Ig the only suspect. He was never tried for the crime, but in the court of public opinion, Ig was and always would be guilty.

Now Ig is possessed with a terrible new power – with just a touch he can see peoples’ darkest desires – to go with his terrible new look, and he means to use it to find the man who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It’s time for a little revenge; it’s time the devil had his due.


I originally wanted to read this book as part of my Horroctober reads, but I’ve had a slow time reading lately and ended up starting it at the beginning of November, and taking most of the month to read it. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, I’ve just struggled to read while doing NaNoWriMo, going back to work and having a poorly baby.

I wanted to read this because I watched the film, although I usually prefer to do things the other way round. But we watched it on Netflix and I really enjoyed it and knew the book would probably be even better – and I was right.

The book really captured me right away as Ig wakes up hung over and with horns growing from his head. When other people see the horns they start spilling their deepest, darkest secrets to him, and don’t remember what they’ve said or seeing the horns afterwards. I loved these interactions with people, seeing what would normally be passing characters suddenly blossom into real people with dark secrets.

What’s worse is when Ig sees close friends and family members and learns what they really think of him. Although he wasn’t tried for his girlfriend Merrin’s rape and murder, everyone believes he did it. He thinks that at least his parents believe him, but even they can’t stand the sight of him. It’s a horrible situation to be in and I felt nervous every time he met a new person ready to say what they really thought of him.

My favourite part of the book is the villain. He’s exceptionally well crafted in a way I can’t quite put into words; he’s real and believable and creepy and unlike any other villain I’ve read before. I enjoyed the different parts of the book and thought they worked better than the way it was told in the film. In the film, there were flashbacks showing  parts of the characters past which just felt jarring and kind of pointless. In the book, these sections were longer and really showed the motivations and relationships of the characters. I especially liked the bits from Lee’s point of view.

I don’t think my review really does this book justice. I’d just say read it, it’s definitely worth it. Hill’s writing is spectacular and I’ll be reading more of his books in future.