Friday, June 4, 2010

Joe Hill: Horror Redeemed by a Devil

I’m not one for horror novels. Give me the weirdness of fantasy, the potential of sci fi, the action of adventure. Horror is gross. Horror is painful. Horror is about suffering, whether its in the mind or body. Horror is riddled with cliches.

And yet, Joe Hill may have converted me.

I started with his second and newest novel, Horns: a novel, selected entirely by its cover. The lines of comedy and horror are blurred, and we’re left bewildered.

Ignatius Martin Perrish is our unlikely villain. Or victim. Maybe a hero. He’s lost love, been blamed for a crime he didn’t commit, and has become his famous family’s black sheep. His life is meaningless. Ig is a shattered man.

The novel opens as he discovers his latest hangover and the surprise devil horns jutting from his forehead. He also has one of the worst super powers of all; his presence makes people confess. His girlfriend confesses. His best friend. His grandmother. Even the local Priest. Unable to stop them, He must listen to their graphic, even ludicrous desires. The first quarter of this novel is so shocking and awful I found myself giggling.

So I snatched up his short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts.

Horror without the unnecessary cliches. Smooth build up, satisfying conclusions. Subtle prose, unexpected plots. My favourite so far: Last Breath. A collector of something whimsical and macabre finds a new addition and perhaps a protege.

Shudder. Smile. Shudder again.

So if this isn’t enough to convince you to try out his books, consider Joe Hill’s lineage: he’s the son of Stephen King.

~For more about the King family, see Rosemary's previous blog posts~

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