Sunday, February 13, 2011

Horns by Joe Hill

One morning Ignatius (Ig) Perrish wakes up hung over after desecrating the memorial placed where his ex-girlfriend was raped a murdered one year ago.  He was never tried for her death, but nearly everyone believes him guilty of the crime.  The physical discomfort of his hangover is compounded by the horns now emerging from his forehead.  Ig soon makes a startling discovery, no one truly notices the horns, yet they now feel compelled to burden Ig with their most horrible thoughts.

The first chapter
Ignatius Martin Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things.  He woke the next morning with a headache, put his hands to his temples and felt something unfamiliar, a pair of knobby pointed protuberances.  He was so ill-wet eyed and weak- he didn’t think anything of it at first, was too hung-over for thinking or worry.
But when he was swaying above the toilet , he glanced at himself in the mirror over the sink and saw he had grown horns while he slept.  He lurched in surprise, and for the second time in twelve hours he pissed on his feet.  
As Ig’s journey begins with the discovery of his new horns, and soon learns the effect they have on others.  The horns elicit confessions from all those he encounters.  The confessions at first are simple.  From “I’ve been unfaithful…”  to “…I want to have more sex and take drugs…”  Ig amuses himself with these confessions until he develops his purpose; discovering who raped and killed his girlfriend the night she broke up with him.    
Joe Hill’s follow up to Heart Shaped Box is a deftly woven mystery.  Nearly every scene contains a human element, that adds to the whole and never detracts from the pacing.  The residents of Hill’s Gideon New Hampshire are alive in their condemnation of Ig, the only suspect in Merrin’s torture and murder.  The town of Gideon is best compared to that of Twin Peaks.  A distinct location  with an unmistakable feel.  The town is populated by unforgettable characters adding vibrance and life.  With his new power Ig is forced to confront truth in Gideon; not only the truth of what happened to Merrin, but the truth of how he is perceived by others.
In the end;
Hill weaves his single fantastical element perfectly through his story.  The often graphic violence is always secondary to the emotional impact of the actions. Horns is a human tale.  In the realm of horror fiction Joe Hill brings his work into the realm of The Exorcist and Silence of the Lambs.    A superb work destined to find its way into the American conciseness.  The character of Ignatius Martin Perrish deserves attention.  Joe Hill’s sophomore novel steps beyond the realm of horror fiction and into that of American literature. 

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