My newest book club and I recently chose to read the book Horns by Joe Hill. We have joked about how our club is really a books-that-became-movies club, and this is no exception – the movie adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe is hitting the big screen Halloween of this year! Our book club gave Horns mixed reviews, but one thing I really enjoyed about this novel is that it is completely different from what I usually read.
Horns follows main character Ignatius Parrish on what has to be the most bizarre downward spiral I have ever read. The story begins when Ig awakens from a night of drinking in response to the anniversary of his girlfriend Merrin’s brutal rape and murder – but upon waking, a few major changes have taken place. First, Ig notices the horns that have sprouted from his head in the night. Then, as he goes looking for help, he notices that everyone he encounters can’t seem to help sharing their deepest darkest secrets with Ig – and you’d be amazed at how dark some of these people’s secrets are. The story vacillates between exploring Ig and Merrin’s relationship as it first developed, right up to Merrin’s tragic end, and Ig’s hunt for the truth of where the horns are coming from, how to get rid of them, and meanwhile, how to retaliate when he discovers the identity of Merrin’s killer.
I have to give props for the story seeming very original – it was. And it was fun to explore the connections between this fairly bizarre work of fiction and the biblical stories I heard in church as a child. What wasn’t fun was how unrelatable most of the story was. For example, I have a really hard time believing that people (all people) are really as dark as they are portrayed in the story. The relationship between Ig and his parents (who secretly believe he murdered Merrin) was especially disturbing to me, because it made family ties seem so much weaker than I’ve always known them to be.
My other complaint was all the symbolism in the book. After reading How to Read Literature Like a Professor, I was really excited to do some interpreting of the various things I was reading. But Hill never gave the reader a chance – he very obviously spelled out every allusion, connection, and piece of symbolism for us, leaving absolutely no interpretation or heavy lifting for me!
I don’t think I’ll watch the movie, and I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this book to our readers at Of Print and Prose. I give it 1 star. ★
… but on the bright side, the discussion at book club led to some delicious themed drinking! In honor of Ig thinking he was turning into the devil throughout the book – we mixed and drank Red Devil cocktails, which was way too much fun!