Res's Reviews > Horns

Horns by Joe Hill
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's review
May 06, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: sff
Read from May 03 to 06, 2010

The one where Ig, who's spent the last year swearing he's innocent of the rape and murder of his fiancee, wakes up one morning with a hangover and horns, and discovers everyone's very eager to confess their deepest guilts to him.

There were things I liked about this -- chiefly the wide variety of guilts people had, and how easy it was to misunderstand what crime/sin was actually being committed in a given situation (a theme throughout the book).

But mostly it didn't really work for me.

For one thing, the villain is really too bad to be true. You spend an awful lot of time in his POV, too, watching his elaborate self-deception. Honestly, most people mean someone well in their lives -- I had a hard time believing in someone who was merely making use of everyone. When we finally got his backstory, it explained things, yes, but sort of the way a zombie is explained when you find out that he's dead; you still have to find a way to dispatch him, but his ability to be a character is taken away, and what's left is just tedious.

I also disliked the convenient role played by alcohol to increase the suspense, erase significant memories, or make people incapable of purposeful action. (As an aside, alcohol made me entirely misjudge what kind of person Ig was for the first chapter, so that I was well into the book before I really understanded what kind of character I was dealing with here.)

And I'm always annoyed by stories that make use of religious symbolism without really engaging with religion. There's a cross that plays a prominent role in this story, and I suppose that it works if you consider it as a magical object -- the rules under which it works and doesn't work seem internally consistent -- but it's never really addressed as, you know, a cross, a sign of a specific religion.

Oh, and -- trivial but annoying -- there's this cutesy theme where every name is symbolic. Ig's last name is Perrish! He drives a Gremlin! He lives in Gideon! Give me a break.

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