Publisher: HarperCollins (originally published March 1st 2010)
How I got this book: free from a giveaway at The Ranting Dragon as part of the 2011 Locus Challenge
Links: Amazon Goodreads
Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache… and a pair of horns growing from his temples.
At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.
But Merrin’s death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside…
My rating: 4.5/5 Stars – Almost perfect. I highly recommend it.
This book was a roller coaster – it made me shudder, cringe, bite my nails, laugh, and even cry. It’s one of the scariest, most disturbing novels I’ve ever read, and I loved it.
The premise is unique and if you’re interested in theology or religion, you’ll love the story’s twist on the Devil. Here, he’s not pure evil, but the embodiment of our flawed human nature. The Devil manifests through the protagonist Iggy, helping him to fight a sociopath whose inhumanity makes him scarier and more evil than any sinful desire the Devil could ever conjure up. Iggy is certainly not a hero in the traditional sense, but in the face of such a monstrous villain, you can’t help but root for him. After all, there’s a little devil in all of us, even if we try to hide it, and this story draws on that concept in a major way.
Right from the beginning, you know something terrible is going to happen, so there’s a constant sense of foreboding underlying the narrative. Even though you know what’s coming, it’s still shocking when it finally happens. I also liked getting to experience the story’s most intense scene from the villain’s perspective because it made the moment that much more horrible. If I wasn’t already on the Devil’s side, I definitely was after that.
One of the biggest surprises comes near the end when a huge revelation makes you see the entire story in a new light. There’s an incredibly satisfying “Ah ha!” moment when the curtain is finally drawn back and you realize that there’s even more depth to the already complex, multilayered characters.
The events of the story are tragic and deeply sad, yet it never looses the element of horror. At times, it’s outright terrifying, demented, gross, and purposely shocking. (If you have a severe phobia of snakes, don’t read this book!) It’s extremely thought provoking, with a compelling plot and a sympathetic antihero. Overall, I really enjoyed Horns and it’s a story that’s undoubtedly going to stay with me for quite a while.
Don’t forget to cast your vote in the 41st annual Locus Awards by April 15th! Horns is nominated for Best Fantasy Novel of 2010. For more, check out The Ranting Dragon’s voting guide and giveaway.