Let’s start with some sympathy for the devil:
“Think about it. In his first adventure, he took the form of a snake to free two prisoners being held naked in a Third World jungle prison by an all-powerful megalomaniac. At the same time, he broadened their diet and introduced them to their own sexuality.”
Hee hee hee.
I had been reluctant to try this book, because Joe Hill’s debut novel did not suit me. Part of the problem was that I kept wanting him to be his father, which he isn’t, though gosh if they don’t look the same. (Here is Joe. Here is his daddy. See?)
But Hill nails it with his sophomore effort. Our hero Ig wakes up one morning to discover horns on his head. For being big pointy red protuberances, the horns blend in remarkably well—no one else seems to notice them—though they do have an effect on other people: suddenly, everyone Ig encounters is spilling secrets. People start spontaneously volunteering unpleasant things: His girlfriend cheated on him, his mother resents him, the receptionist at the doctor’s office wants to brawl with one of the patients.
Oh, and—wow, this is a doozy—it was his best friend Lee who raped and murdered Ig’s one true love last summer.
This is a legitimate horror novel in a genre that is mostly populated with, ahem, “psychological thrillers,” which I find to be neither psychological nor thrilling nor horrific. The supernatural angle was all kinds of fun, with a main character who is basically likable, despite having been transformed into the devil. The structure of the novel has a few too many flashback scenes for my tastes—I preferred the scenes set in the present, where Ig uses his new powers to hunt down Lee—but it’s easy enough to follow, and readers who stick with it will be rewarded with an inventive inversion of the Good vs. Evil trope and a bizarre but touching love story. But stay away if you are squeamish about violence (including sexual violence) or if you object to the devil being cast as the hero.
Check the WRL catalog for Horns