Horns by Joe Hill
In this novel, a young man wakes up one day with horns on his head, and discovers he has a strange effect on people. They confide their darkest desires to him, and he can persuade them to do things. Iggy Parrish’s girlfriend was raped and murdered a year ago, and he’s still the prime suspect. Though he was never charged, his life has been ruined. The mystery of this murder and Iggy’s revenge form most of the book’s plot. From the opening with the horns, things get more and more fantastic, until the end, which I’m still puzzling over.
This book was fun to read, naughty and raunchy at times. There are lots of puns and jokes on horns, along with all of the “devilish” imagery you can think of: a pitchfork, snakes, fire, a restaurant called “The Pit,” fun stuff like that sprinkled all around.
The villain is a complete misogynist, a really nasty, twisted person, who even as a teenager says some of the most disgusting stuff about women I’ve ever read. He really believes in the virgin/whore dichotomy. It’s implied at one point that he had a brain injury that may have caused his behavior. He works as an aide to a Republican congressman, and at one point he says he wants to be the next Karl Rove, which made me chuckle.
The theology or philosophy behind Horns was unusual and definitely not conservative. It seemed similar to the ideas from His Dark Materials, in which the Fall was a good thing and religion is a lie. Near the middle of the book, as he takes on his devil persona, Iggy preaches a sermon to a pile of snakes in which he says that women are more worthy of worship than God. His language is too earthy for this statement to be about putting women on a pedestal. He says that God condemned his girlfriend for breaking up with him and wanting to be with other men, and he in turn condemns God for abandoning her, which may show that he has forgiven her, and accepts her freedom.
I’m looking forward to the movie starring Daniel Radcliff.