My final Florida book was Joe Hill’s second novel, Horns. I previously read and reviewed Hill’s debut novel, Heart Shaped Box, which I enjoyed. Horns tells the story of Ignatius Perrish, who awakens after a night of heavy drinking with horns growing out of his forehead. Perrish had been suspected of raping and murdering his long-time girlfriend a year prior to the opening of the book. His horns come with demonic powers that allow him discover a person’s most deeply held secrets. This power leads him to discover the true killer’s identity about a fifth of the way through the book. The rest of the book is composed of flashbacks narrating the events leading up to the murder, and contemporary scenes depicting Ig’s quest for revenge.
This book was so-so. The plot was intriguing and the characters were interesting, but after a certain point the book became a bit predictable. I knew by about halfway through roughly how the book would end. I think revealing the killer early in the book was a mistake. It does allow for better character development, as the reader is better able to appreciate each character’s motivations knowing what the end results will be. That said, this book is a thriller, not a literary classic. A thriller works better with more mystery. The book was enjoyable but unremarkable.
Another issue that detracted from my enjoyment was the language. I am not a prude. I don’t mind occasional profanity or obscenity. What I do mind is when profanity becomes a substitute for genuine wit or well-crafted prose. Hill leans way too much on the f-bomb. The story also features some overly graphic sexual material. Again, it doesn’t bother me if it seems necessary for the story. Unfortunately, it felt too gratuitous in Horns. The book clearly deals with some religious themes, and Hill is not tremendously friendly towards Christianity. This didn’t bother me, but some readers might be offended.
Ultimately I enjoyed Horns. It wasn’t the greatest book I have ever read, but is far from the worst. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick and interesting read who doesn’t mind some very obscene and graphic language.
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