20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill (311p.)
20th Century Ghosts is a wide-ranging collection of stories by Joe Hill. It runs the gamut of horror fiction – trying too hard at being shocking and vulgar, to thriller and ghost stories, with the everyday sort sprinkled throughout.
Much like with Heart Shaped Box, I didn’t connect with Hill’s writing. It took me forever to finish the book, reading only a story at a time because I wasn’t so drawn into the writing that I wanted to read one after the other.
I initially wrote this review right after finishing it and could honestly only remember the plot of two or three stories. It’s a few weeks later now, and I can only recall one of them and that one wasn’t even one I particularly liked which concerned the bottling of people’s last breath.
Horns by Joe Hill (370p.)
YES! Finally something by Hill clicked for me. I couldn’t put it down. I finished this in two days, which is more than I can say for Heart Shaped Box or 20th Century Ghosts.
Ignatius Perrish has been on a downward spiral since the murder of his girlfriend a year prior. He is widely believed to have committed and gotten away with it, which has encouraged his downward spiral from top of the class to town drunk. He crashes after a terrible bender and wakes up with no memory of what happened the night prior, though the mark remains upon him in the form of two horns steadily growing from his head. With the horns come various powers, which grow along with the length of the horns as Ig tests them on those he meets. As he becomes stronger, he uncovers the true details of his girlfriend’s murder and walks a path of vengeance and revenge.
Ig was a sympathetic, if troubled, protagonist. Hill balanced a fine line between humor and heart, taking Ig on a seemingly natural progression through the use of his powers. The switch in point of view and use of flashbacks throughout the novel worked for me. While I can nitpick some details of the plot, especially towards the end of the book, I really don’t feel like it. It was a quick, fun read and was perfect as such.