Horns by Joe Hill (audiobook): Review

Ig wakes up hung over and growing a pair of horns from his head. At first he thinks he must be hallucinating, until people he meets react unexpectedly to the horns. They see them but they don't run away screaming as he thinks they would. Instead, they tell him their darkest secrets, all their bad thoughts. This is understandably difficult for Ig, especially when they tell him what they think of him.

Almost one year ago, Ig's girlfriend, Merrin, was brutally murdered. He had no alibi and was arrested but with little evidence the police had to let him go. Most people in his town believe he did it. The weight of his grief and anger eats away at him leading to the events of the previous night that he can't remember but resulting in the horns. With the horns' power Ig finds out what his friends and family really think of him and it's usually unpleasant. Another ability the horns give Ig is the power to see all the evil deeds committed by the person he touches.

One hidden secret is about to turn his world upside down once again and set him on a path to revenge.

Horns by Joe Hill was quite surprising. I expected the story to go in certain directions but it nearly always took a twist. Ig's story is not a straight narrative. Part of Horns flashes back to Ig's youth when he first meets Merrin and follows their romance. The reader gets a frightful view of the thoughts of a sociopath. As I was listening to this as an audiobook, I found myself fast forwarding through some of that. The mind of the killer was a dark place to be. It's scary to think that there are people who take every innocent comment and turn it into an invitation.

Hill turns the idea of good and evil on its head. Ig is a truly good person. He believed that the people he knew were good. Then a terrible event has him questioning his beliefs. The horns are a burden. They end up changing him, being in the presence of the evil in others changes him. The murderer poses as a good person but he has an empty spot where his soul should be. I'm not sure what a very religious person will make of Horns. Even my own reaction to some aspects of the book was “hmmm...” *raised eyebrow*.

But it's funny! There are some seriously funny parts in Horns. The things people tell Ig are shocking but hilarious. Poor Ig doesn't know how to deal with this. It's not really fair, actually. We all have not very nice thoughts about our love ones occasionally but those are fleeting and don't negate the love we really feel for them. Too bad Ig only hears the bad thoughts.

I'm still trying to decide if I'm satisfied with the ending of Horns. On the one hand, it really couldn't have ending any other way but still... I was quite happy about how things turned out for certain characters though.

Horns is both dark and light-hearted. Joe Hill certainly has a good sense of humour and a twisted imagination.

About the audio: I enjoyed the narration of Fred Berman. He has a youngish voice that suited Ig. The only thing that kept distracting me was his voice for Glenna. She kind of sounds like Buford from Phineas and Ferb to me. Sorry but that's who kept replacing the image of Ig's curvy friend in my mind.


  1. I had several people recommend this one to me when I was looking for something that wasn't too brain intensive. I haven't gotten to check it out yet, but maybe I should.

  2. Hmmmm. I am not sure that this one would work for me. Initially I thought it may be something my husband would like but now I am not so sure. He is very picky about his reading!

  3. I quite enjoyed Heart-Shaped Box too, and it sounds as though it has some shared elements (surprising developments, unexpected sense of humour/fun), so I'll keep this one in mind as well.

  4. I've heard of this one once before and the reviewer gave it a glowing review. Now, having read your review, I may have to add it to my wishlist :)

  5. Teresa- Hope you like it!

    Lola- Maybe run it by him.

    Buried- I liked Heart Shaped Box too. This is another good one.

    Nikki-ann- Other reviewers seem to like it too.

  6. There were parts of Heart Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts that were seriously disturbing to me -- and I'm hard to disturb. I started this one but did not finish. I do think Hill is incredibly talented, but this one seemed gimmicky at first. Loved your review, Chris!

  7. I put this one on my list recently. I have to admit the premise sounded pretty amusing and it's good to know it works. Thanks for the warning about the sociopath thoughts though; could possibly/probably skip those parts.

  8. I enjoyed this one but it was the middle that I questioned really.

    I want to read HeartShaped Box for the challenge.

  9. I'm still on the fence with this book. I should just bite the hesitancy and read it.

  10. The ending ruined the book for me. Way too....Nicholas Sparksy.


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