We all know how much I love Stephen King. My goal is to read everything he has written. Since he’s so prolific, I’m reading his new ones when they come out, and then trying to catch one or two old ones each year. This year I read The Stand, am currently reading The Outsider, have Insomnia to read next month, and then another new one in the fall, Elevation. When I heard his kid was publishing under a pseudonym (kinda… his name is Joseph Hillstrom King) I was skeptical. However, I appreciated that he kept his real last name out of the picture so he could be judged on his own merit. He has four novels and two short story collections out. Horns is the third book of his I have read. I started with NOS4A2 and that book scared the crap out of me. I recently read The Fireman and enjoyed that a lot. So, when I needed to read a book with a cover I hate, I opened up my kindle, changed it to picture view instead of list view and found Horns. For some reason, my Kindle version has the movie cover. Now, I love Daniel Radcliffe and I’m sure he’s great in this movie, but I really dislike movie covers on books.
Ignatius Perrish wakes up one morning with Horns growing out of his head. He quickly realizes people can see the horns, but quickly forget they are there. He also realizes people tell him their deepest darkest secrets. A year ago, Ig lost his girlfriend. She was raped and murdered, Ig was accused of it but evidence was destroyed, so the police had no choice but to let him go. Ig professed his innocence, but people still think he is guilty. Now that everyone confesses their secrets, Ig realizes some truths from his own family, including who killed his girlfriend. Ig makes it his mission to bring the killer to justice.
Joe Hill does some great writing. He has one novel that I haven’t read, and I will definitely make a point to get to that one. I wouldn’t say Horns is graphically scary, but it is psychologically scary. You really get sucked into Ig’s revenge plot.
Now, we all know I’m a blazing fan of Stephen King. I’ve said this fact a number of times in this blog. When I heard this new author, Joe Hill, was igniting the horror book world, I thought I would check him out. It wasn’t until much later that I learned the searing knowledge that Hill is King’s son. I have previously read NOS4A2 and liked it a lot, but it was truly a scorching, horrifying book. I needed a previous Goodreads Reader Choice winner for the book challenge, found The Fireman on my Kindle and chose it for the category.
I’m always curious how a title is chosen for a book. Is it a spark from the author’s mind or something just occurs naturally? Because the fireman isn’t even the main character in this story. The first character we meet is Harper, a nurse married to Jakob, living in a world where people are literally catching on fire thanks to a new fungus called Dragonscale. Preliminary investigation shows the ‘scale is ignited by your emotions. If you get scared, angry, upset poof. Combustion. Harper gets infected and gets pregnant, Jakob leaves her, tries to kill her, and in walks the fireman (also known as John) to help keep her from burning to death.
John takes her to an abandoned summer camp where the members have found a way to survive and not burn to death. They sing. The Dragonscale feeds on positive emotions as well, so singing unites the people, they begin to glow, and the ‘scale doesn’t harm them anymore. What’s more is some people can manipulate the fungus to their benefit, causing searing damage to those not infected. The main problem in the book is keeping Harper alive long enough to give birth, but there are many obstacles in her way, namely her husband, who isn’t infected but is still poisoned in his own way.
I couldn’t put this book down. Hill does a smoking great job of keeping you on the hook with Harper’s fate. And the ending doesn’t disappoint. I didn’t see it coming, either. So far, Hill is two for two in my book and I can’t wait to read more.