Friday, October 17, 2014

Good for Halloween

Over the weekend I judged a book by its cover and was delighted with the results. I was in the bookstore with my cousin and sister when I passed an endcap that had a picture of Daniel Radcliffe growing horns. I shot a look at my sister and said "is that?" and she confirmed - our little Harry is all grown up and starring in an indie flick about a guy with horns. Honestly (and sadly) that was enough for me. If the thesis of your book is "let's explore what happens when a guy grows horns" putting a picture of a guy growing horns on the cover is a great way to communicate that.

Anyway, I picked up the book and it's awesome and I guess I have to start reading Joe Hill now.

Ig and Lee are fun and fiddly characters to read, and sharing space in their heads will leave you excited but wanting a shower. The odd little world of the story and delightfully awful people Hill has filled it with are vastly entertaining to spend time with.

The book is a lovely little adventure with magic and misery and a delightful discussion of how full of life and expectations and dreams even the most prosaic of hairdressers or little old nuns may be.

The story is not particularly layered but the way it's broken up into chunks and rearranged gives it a comfortable depth that requires you to rethink and relive some parts of the book and the history of the characters. There is an interesting and ongoing exploration of theology throughout the story that I found fascinating and well-reasoned but would probably be off-putting to, say, C.S. Lewis but appealing to Rolling Stones fans.

I know that I'm picky as hell about finding and reading new authors. I've had a streak of bad luck with books that I gave a chance and was infuriated by, but it's the books like this that give me hope. Here's a book that I came into completely cold and enjoyed enormously, which has opened up a whole new author to me. The excitement about being excited about a book was almost more appealing and satisfying to me than finding out what would happen each time I turned a page - almost, but not quite. Horns was a quick and charmingly devious read. "The Devil on the Stairs," a short story included at the end of my edition (which tricked me into thinking I had another twenty pages of the novel, damnit) was delightful and an unexpected bonus that provided a contrasting view of everyday devils.

EDIT - Um, I can't believe that I forgot to mention this but the book is charming and entertaining and fun but is ALSO about an unsolved rape and murder. So. You know. Trigger warnings and yeah there's lots of violence that some people probably won't want to read. And if you are opposed to sympathetic demon characters you probably won't want to read it either. Now you know.

     - Alli

Hill, Joe. Horns. William Morrow. New York: New York. 2010.

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