Reading List: Horns by Joe Hill

I finished reading Joe Hill’s novel Horns a couple of weeks ago. It onlyHorns Cover Pitchfork took me eleven days to read, which is pretty fast for me. I wrote a review of it over at my other site – Cinema Lowdown.

I’m not going to re-review it here, but here’s a little excerpt:

One morning Ignatius Perrish awakens to find a pair of horns growing out of his skull. He can’t quite remember what happened the night before, but it’s not likely anything would explain his sudden metamorphosis. Not only do the horns change Ig’s appearance, but they possess the power to make everyone Ig encounters confess their deepest, darkest secrets. Joe Hill’s novel Horns asks us to question our perception of good and evil and presents a pretty cool murder mystery wrapped in supernatural thriller.


A few days later I checked out the film adaptation while it was still in theaters (and is currently available VOD). I also wrote a review of that over at Cinema Lowdown.

Imagine waking up with a pair of devil horns growing out of your head and everyone you meet confessing their darkest secrets to you. That’s exactly what happens to Ig Perrish in Horns, the film adapted from Joe Hill’s novel of the same name. Horns is part horror and part murder mystery combined with a satirical edge and I guarantee it’s different than any other horror film you’ve seen. While it doesn’t quite come together in the end, it’s fun to watch and Daniel Radcliffe is excellent as the tormented Ig.

_DSC7980.NEFI’m not one to obsess over the differences between the book and the film version of a story. A lot of times I like the book better but not always. The mediums are completely different. What works in books does not always work on the screen, or at least needs to be told differently in the visual medium.

In this case, I thought Horns translated to film pretty well. I liked Daniel Radcliffe’s performance in the lead role of Ig. I also thought Alexandre Aja, who directed the film, did a good job of capturing the dark humor present in the book.

Missing from the film was the development of Lee Tourneau. I loved the way Hill played with the perceptions of each of the characters in the film, particularly Lee. No one in this film turned out to really be the way they first appeared. It was fun to see things slowly unravel while reading the book. In the film, Lee wasn’t much of a character so the ending, where Ig and Lee battle, loses a lot of its impact.

Aja was also not able to capture the “tree house of the mind” depicted in the book. In the film the tree house becomes literal and it too loses its impact. However, I can imagine it might have been hard to capture it on film the way Hill so expertly does in the book.

However, despite those two fairly major points, I still enjoyed watching the film. It couldn’t capture the poignancy of Hill’s novel, but it’s still fun to watch.

The novel Horns was one of the most enjoyable reads I have experienced in long time. Prior to Horns, I had read Hill’s novel NOS4A2, which also enjoyed (and will be talking about soon).  I’m looking forward to reading Hill’s first novel, Heart Shaped Box, and finishing off his collection of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts.




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