I primarily know Joe Hill‘s work from the comic book series Locke & Key, but he’s also a novelist. “Horns” is his second full-length novel, and it is a beautiful doozy.
Ignatius Perrish is at the bottom. The second son of a semi-famous jazz musician, the younger brother of a late-night talk show host, he was also the prime suspect of the rape and murder of his long-time girlfriend, thought he was never formally charged. Still, the specter of guilt lingers over him in town, where many think it was only his family’s connections that got him off. Ig himself wallows in despair, meaningless sex, and depression until one morning, when he wakes up with a pair of horns growing from his forehead.
And suddenly, there might be a way to make things better, and to find out what really happened on that mysterious night over a year ago.
Hill’s got a unique and fascinating voice and literary style, where a slow burn of a 3rd-person narrative slowly builds and builds until a very deep and rich but still totally relateable story grows. I was surprised at how much I liked Ig, a flawed man who doesn’t necessarily “get better”, but doesn’t wallow in his failings either. Rather, he simply moves forward with life, though he does change in a way as the story goes on (I don’t want to spoil it for you).
Tinged with supernatural and religious trappings, it’s not really a book about religion or spirituality or spiritual battles. It’s more a horror/mystery story, so if you’re interested in a good story in that vein (like I definitely am), then totally check it out.