Joe Hill’s HORNS

Well, we all spent the day on the couch. Those of us flexible enough to lick our own junk did that in between bouts of napping. The rest of us–sadly, me–gulped down Joe Hill’s Horns. I was a little worried, both because I wasn’t that in love with Heart-shaped Box and because, after my little tree freak-out, I was nervous about reading his take on the Devil.

The book is exquisite.  I actually whooped when I finished it, because it was so well-done. You know how some writers set up their books like delightful Rube-Goldberg machines, where each event and character seems to be carefully put into place to do something, everything is mentioned precisely because it’s going to be set into motion when the flip is switched? And then you spend the last part of the book in sheer delight as everything slides right into place?

This book does that.

So, the plot is pretty straight-forward. A guy who is the prime suspect in the rape and murder of his girlfriend wakes up one morning to discover he’s growing Devil horns. Then, over the course of the book, we find out what really happened to his girlfriend and who really did it and how he seeks his revenge. What happens to the girlfriend is not made explicit, so if you get freaked out by that kind of stuff, know that Hill leaves it to your imagination and doesn’t indulge in torture porn.

But, like I said, it’s very well done. And the bad guy ends up being very creepy, and very easy to imagine as a real-life person.

And there’s a lovely sermon the guy growing Devil horns gives his congregation of snakes. I think he covers some of the same theological ground my novel–bless its heart–does, which seems right to me. Of course it’s a big, old question–if we’re suffering and God is all-powerful, why doesn’t he stop it? Couple that with the “What’s God’s deal with women?” question and you have a lot of things that drive a lot of people theologically. I wasn’t surprised to read in the acknowledgements that Hill’s sister is a minister, I’ll say that.

Anyway, it’s cool. I’m glad I read it. And I have Chuck Palahniuk’s upcoming book on my list of things to read, just to see how he deals with Old Scratch.

5 thoughts on “Joe Hill’s HORNS

  1. I am less than 100 pages from the end of Horns.

    So far, I think I love Heart Shaped Box more, but I found the nasty violent ghosts even more creepy than the subtle ones. I like a wide variety of ghosts. Anyway, I may change my mind in the next 100 pages.

  2. I have read all three of his books and liked them all, for different reasons. The one in 20th Century Ghosts where the kid is trapped in the killer’s basement and the other victim kids call him on the phone to tell him the score is still floating around in my brain, several (3?) years after I read it.

    Horns was more rollicking, less creepy. And the Devil in a Blue Dress comment made me snort whatever I was drinking out my nose when I read it.

  3. It is great to read a book that you enjoy and have trouble putting down. It can bring you to another space and I liken it to a mini vacation. Seeing things from another’s point of view can change how you feel about things. Books are wonderful – just wish I had more time to read.

  4. Ah, cinnabari, you and I have very different tastes in ghosts, then. I don’t like when they veer too much into horror movie baddie territory. But I did love the set-up to that book. Like I said in my other post, I loved the first half. I am just not that into ghosts being able to go mobile.

    Jess, I didn’t think there was a dud in the bunch of 20th Century Ghosts. Wow, that whole collection was well-done.

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