Ignatius “Ig” Perrish has a problem in life: the Gideon, New Hampshire believes he is a violent sex murderer and a freak. The previous year he went from a respectable family name and coming from money to something unworthy after his girlfriend Merrin Williams was brutally raped and murdered out at the old foundry and naturally Ig became suspect number one. As freaked out as he was, he was sure that when the physical evidence returned he would be just fine because it would have to rule him out… he was not present and he is certainly not guilty. Instead the lab containing the evidence catches fire, and even a year on Ig is still a “person of interest”, though he knows everyone believes he did it. Ig wakes one morning to find horns growing out of his head, shockingly. The night before is a bit of a drunken mess, but he knows he was at the foundry at some stage. His new girlfriend of sorts, Glenna Nicholson, starts spilling her guts to Ig when he meets with her in their apartment that morning, some deep and dark secrets, and he cannot understand why she is not more freaked out by the horns. Ultimately she admits to him that she hooked up with Lee Tourneau the night before, Ig’s ex-best friend.
Ig escapes the apartment, and soon finds that his horns seem to be affecting people. They notice they are there, but are unperturbed by it and continue on as normal with the exception of sharing some pretty nasty things with him. Ig realises that people are sharing their darkest desires and thoughts with him as though he should okay it. He learns some terrible things about the people in town as well as what a lot of people think about him. He is crushed to learn that his parents truly believe that he butchered Merrin and that they both despise him. He runs into his incredibly successful and famous brother Terry, and here he learns that Terry swears he did not kill Merrin, though he might know who did. Paralysed, Ig learns that Lee Tourneau was responsible for killing Merrin, Lee who distanced himself after Merrin’s death, finally deserting him completely… Lee who was around since the day Ig and Merrin met each other at teens and were inseparable ever since… Matters are not helped by the fact that Lee has always lusted after Merrin, and that she and Ig had quite the serious fight the night she was raped and killed – this is why he is so high up on the suspect list.
Ig cannot deal with the possibility, and starts to think back to the past, his and Merrin’s past, as well as how Lee tied into everything. Deciding to confront Lee to accuse him of Merrin’s slaying as well as hear what Lee would say about it, he is shocked when Lee does not seem to be affected by the horns. He only tells Ig what he wants to and no more. Lee still wears Merrin’s gold cross around his neck, the beginning of their friendships as well as the relationship of Ig and Merrin. He suspects that the cross may have something to do with what is going on. Ig is furious and hurt and depressed and on a revenge mission. He does not know how exactly it is that the horns came to be and that discovery is no longer the most important thing for him to work out. He needs to avenge Merrin, he needs to get onto some form of equal ground, to punish someone for the injustice that she suffered, and he needs a plan to do it. Moving across town, Ig starts to cause discord and bring out the inner truths of people while he paves his path to Lee, who on his own has other plans to take Ig down, to not be held responsible for what has happened. Ig knows if he can get Merrin’s cross away from Lee and he can just touch him, just for a split second, he will know exactly what went down that night, as though has also become a truth-telling ability for him.
How does Terry tie into Merrin’s murder? What actually happened the night that she was killed? What will happen between Ig and Lee? How far will his horns tranformation continue? What will he change into? Will he avenge the fallen love of his life? Will it even make a difference if he does?
This was a book suggestion from Cara over at Silver Screen Serenade to add to my reading challenge for this year. I have never read any of his work before, so this was going to an entirely new experience for me. I must say that I enjoyed this, it was something different, another writing style. I had a giggle when Stephen King’s Carrie was referenced, I thought that was quite entertaining. It took me a little bit to get into it because of the sudden place in which it starts, but that also goes hand in hand with showing us how Ig was experiencing his inexplicable change, too. I liked the musical reference that were in the book, and the characters were pretty cool, too. Joe Hill lays the story out, not in a chronological order, but in a sequence that will make sense as you progress. The memories that come up as well as the impact in the present were great. Reading about how Ig is dealing with everything helps to identify with the character, while reading how Lee is going about something or how he perceives it lends another outlook as to what is happening. Merrin’s murder was not spread out in lurid detail from the off, but rather set out as a journey to which you collect pieces of the puzzle to get to construct by the end and read the story out like a map. It was a relatively quick read, and while not the greatest book of all time, it shows that Hill has immense amounts of potential and should be recognised for it. I am looking forward to reading more of his work.