Gunner McGrath's Reviews > Horns

Horns by Joe Hill
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Jun 13, 11

bookshelves: own-in-hardcover, autographed, horror
Read from June 02 to 13, 2011 — I own a copy

I expected a super-powered revenge story, but ended up with far more. Horns is also a story of love, loyalty, friendship, family, and how the things that happen when we're kids influence who we become as adults.

Joe Hill doesn't seem to believe in the old cliche of building suspense and horror through slow reveals through the first three quarters of his novel, and finishing with a big climax of terror; maybe because it's been so overdone that the scariest parts of these are the buildup, which makes it very hard to create a satisfying ending. Stephen King (Hill's father), much as I love him, is often plagued with this problem.

Instead, Hill jumps right into the meat of the story in the first chapter, grabs your attention, and then once he's got a firm grip on you, backs off and shows you the humanity of his characters. He shows you who they are, conjures real interest and affection where you didn't expect it, and takes you on a journey through not only the "scary" scenario, but also through their lives, their strengths and weaknesses, and makes them feel real. This method has all the strength of connection from books like IT and Duma Key without making you wait forever for any idea of what's going on. Hill used this method in his previous novel, Heart-Shaped Box, but it works even better here.

I do have to say that I think Hill really benefited from learning from his dad's experience. Horns does things it took years for King to manage. I feel that King fans are bound to love Hill's writing, as there are plenty of similarities, but he also brings a fresh perspective and style to the work so his work feels more like carrying on a family tradition rather than simple imitation or creating derivative work. I hope Hill can become just as prolific, and if his first two novels (miles beyond King's first two) are any indication, I may have my wish granted.
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