I have not read much Joe Hill, but I have often thought of him as a privileged author that would be steered by a large team of editors to a guaranteed success. I have given his writing ability little credit in the past, often assuming that he has been counseled and edited by the best money can buy. I have read his most popular work, NOS4A2, and thought it was basically the same book as Dr. Sleep, using the same cheep sympathy trick of children killing and using stereotyped characters.
My hopes for Horns were low, but I found it to be far better than expected. The books main character is in many ways an anti-hero, but he is also the moral superior in the story. The villain’s character is perhaps the only one that I really had a problem with. He was supposed to be a clean-nosed goody-two-shoes, yet before introducing him as such you hear about depraved behaviors that would instantly get around any small town and have him labeled as a bit of an ass-hole.
The premise of the story was a fun one. A young man with a checkered past wakes up with horns one morning, and the horns make people tell their worst desires. There are many fun things that could venture off the basic premise, and Mr. Hill does have quite a bit of fun with it before getting into the real nuts-and-bolts of the story of finding out who murdered his girlfriend. Eventually, Hill wraps the story up with a nice resolution and an explanation of the horns.
The constant allusions to music (especially the Stones) was a fun diversion from the story. I give this book 3 ½ stars, a good showing that makes it worth reading.
On a side note, I also just read The Devil’s Lament by Kenneth W. Harmon, and I found it to be a far more serious and interesting look at the nature of the devil. Neither book is scary in the slightest though.