"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"
Ignatius Perrish, the main character in Joe Hill's "Horns" does. After a night of drinking far too much, Ig wakes up to discover he has grown horns in the night. And he slowly discovers these horns have given him a new ability. When in his presence, people feel compelled to tell him their darkest deepest thoughts and desires and if he touches them he can see all the awful things they have done in their lives. His presence brings out the worst already in people. In short, Ig has awoken as the devil.
While this supernatural element plays a large role in the story, it is SO much more than that. At its heart is the mystery surrounding his girlfriends rape and murder the year before. The whole town blames him but he maintains his innocence and the truth about what really happened that night is where the true horror of this story comes into play. There are many horror novels devoted to monsters and the supernatural, but what's really and truly scary are the horrors that are real. The poeple in this world who are "evil" and do acts of unthinkable violence and cruelty.
Much more than compelling storytelling is going on here. Horns examines the nature of evil and is one of those books that make you think long after you have closed the covers on its final pages.
Hill's characters are complex and multi-layered, just like this book. They are human (even when they're evil incarnate) and they make their fair share of mistakes. I can't stand reading books where the characters are one-dimensional. You know the ones....where the good guys never do anything bad and they come across as "perfect people." Not only are they boring to read about, their voices don't ring true.
Hill also has a knack for dark humor. There are some decidedly laugh out loud moments in this book, where he plays on some devilish stereotypes and creates some deliciously campy scenes to play out on the movie screen of your mind.
I highly recommend this book to mature readers (definitely not YA here!) It is without a doubt one of the best books I've read this year.
Link to Joe Hill's website...
Here's an interview where Joe Hill discusses Horns and what it has in common with Hitchcock and a little "sympathy for the devil..."