by Joe Hill
“Maybe all the schemes of the devil were nothing compared to what men could think up.”
On the anniversary of his girlfriend’s sadistic murder, a young man finds himself growing horns which cause those around him to speak more candidly and act much closer to their base instincts than allowed in civilized society. As events accelerate our protagonist must come to terms with his own developing nature.
The author’s second novel is so full of promise you may be disappointed with the way the final events play out. Not that there was any kind of a bad ending, just that you may find yourself hoping for something it’s not. Horns is a small tale involving a small group of characters, whereas based on the premise you might hope for epic tale involving all the devilry in the world. Philosophical questions are presented occasionally, but this could have been the very heart and soul of the story. Religion is such a massive part of our everyday lives, whether we believe or we don’t, this area remained relatively untapped considering the theme. Our devil character is not grappling with phenomenal cosmic powers with the potential to crack the Earth. He is wallowing in misery and doubt, following the breadcrumbs of his girlfriend’s murder that everyone thinks he committed. Still, everything works in this story and conflict abounds.
Mr. Hill is an excellent writer and is fully capable of employing brilliance (see 20th Century Ghosts). He has not yet peaked, and that can only be a good thing.
Horns is a well written, highly enjoyable read with a pace that careens the story to its climax. Smaller in scale than you want? Sure. But The Devil’s work begins slowly.