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Ermahgerd. Berks.

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Caliban's War
James S.A. Corey
The Shining Girls

Horns: A Novel

Horns - Joe Hill I didn't read Joe Hill's other book, so I don't know if it holds true there, but in Horns, he really seems to be channeling his famous father. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, and maybe I wouldn't comment on it if I didn't know they are related, but everything from the lurid, high concept plot to the gallows humor, to the obsession with classic rock screamed "King" to me.That said, it's a pretty entertaining book. The plot offers a weird twist on a somewhat familiar concept (the "hero's" sinister devil horns compel people to tell him their darkest thoughts, which I definitely feel like I have encountered before), but it's still amusing to see what horrible sins Hill can come up with for the other characters to confess (not surprisingly, a lot of them have to do with sex, but I appreciate that no one turned out to be a secret child molester).My problems with it come down to pacing and the parts where Hill seems to be trying to get his point across. The former is easy enough to explain -- just as the present day story of the horns is, er, heating up, there is a long flashback to the protag's youth that stopped the book cold for about 40 pages. Eventually it gets more interesting (and I can see why it's important to the setup), but I certainly got impatient wading through it. A section later on examining events from a decidedly less pleasant character's point of view suffers from some of the same problems, putting the plot on hold to fill in background, but doing so in a way that feels a bit long-winded and redundant.And that's where the themes come in. If you've read the synopsis, you know the hero uses his horns to try to avenge the death of his dead girlfriend; a killer who's a downright vile sociopath (he even idolizes Karl Rove!). But late in the book, Hill hints at motivations that seem to, if not engender sympathy for the man, at least explain away his evil in a way I found a bit too convenient (and hardly plausible, but that's beside the point in the magic devil horns book). Meanwhile, our hero muses (and gives a literal sermon) on the nature of good and evil and the conflict between God and the Devil, and Hill wraps up the story with a bit of convoluted time travel and a symbolic tree house and I'm not quite sure of the point he's trying to make, particularly considering a late-stage revelation about the dead girlfriend that strains too hard to put a neat thematic bow on everything.I'm intrigued enough to check out Heart-Shaped Box someday though -- Hill is very readable and no doubt has many more books inside of him.