Book Review

Book Review: Horns

By Joe Hill

My Edition:
Paperback, 397 pages
2010, HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780061147968

From the back of the book: Merrin Williams is dead, slaughtered under inexplicable circumstances, leaving her beloved boyfriend ignatius Perrish as the only suspect. On the first anniversary of Merrin’s murder, IG spends the night drunk and doing awful things. When he wakes the next morning he has a thunderous hangover…and horns growing from his temples. Ig possesses a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look – a macabre gift he intends to use to find the monster who killed his lover. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. Now it’s time for revenge…it’s time the devil had his due. 

What I liked:
Joe Hill did it again – once I started this book I hated to tear myself away. What really grabbed me about Horns was the characters. Hill’s writing made me forget that I was reading his work, rather, I felt like I was actually inside his characters. I was so transported by the – sometimes horrible – thoughts and actions of the characters that they felt real to me; I had to constantly remind myself I was reading a work of fiction.

This book was scary, but not in the usual sense. What freaked me out, was the horrible thoughts Ig was hearing from his friends and family. His horns brought out their compulsion to speak their worst thoughts and desires and I couldn’t help but imagine myself in his position. That’s a power I would never want! I had to try hard not to think about what awful things the people I know might be thinking as I went about my normal life.

One of the scariest moments for me was when one of the male characters in the book was misinterpreting everything the female was saying and doing and it eventually leads to violence. Unfortunately, this could be a real scenario and being inside that character’s head was chilling:

“The thing about Merrin was that she didn’t always mean what she said but often said things that were in direct opposition to her intentions.”

I even found some of his descriptions gross, even though nothing scary or gory was happening:

“She held [the box] in place, shoved her face into it, and began to eat. She made noises while she chewed, smacking her lips and breathing strangely. She gagged again, her shoulders hitching, but kept eating, using her free hand to push more doughnut into her mouth, even though her cheeks were already swollen and full.”

It’s not all bad though. I really enjoyed the imagery in this quote:

“The service ended, and conversation rose like water filling a tub, the church a container with a particular volume, its natural quiet quickly displaced by noise.”

As usual, Hill’s work kept me interested and I flew through this book. I know there were probably times when I was younger that I wished I could read minds, but like Merrin said:

“The people you love should be allowed to keep their worst to themselves.”

What I didn’t like:
I don’t completely dislike the ending, but it made me go “huh?” and I couldn’t quite picture what was happening. I don’t think it was as strong as the rest of the book, and while I can’t think of an alternative, it seemed to just drop off. It doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a solid book.


If you’ve already read something by Joe Hill and liked it, you’ll probably like Horns. If you’re looking for a more alternative style of horror, check out this book. If you’re bored or have a lot of time on your hands, check out this book! Basically, just go read it, then tell me what you thought.

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