Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, October 10, 2016

Having a monstrously good time with FrightFall this year

Part of my Halloween fun the past couple of years has been taking part in FrightFall, one of the readathon events hosted by Seasons of Reading, where you're encouraged to read as many scary books as you can in a week.

This time out, I went with father and son selections and managed to finish the one novel written by the younger author. Horns by Joe Hill(yes, he's Stephen King's son) tells the tale of Ignatius "Ig" Perrish, a young man tormented by the unsolved murder of his childhood sweetheart Merrin Williams.

Not only was her death horrifying, Ig was the prime suspect and a year later, is still considered to be Merrin's killer by their small town, despite a lack of evidence either way. The night before the first anniversary of Merrin's death, Ig gets good and drunk but awakens with more than the expected hangover.

Ig finds himself growing a pair of horns on his head, which give him unusual and unwanted powers. People are compelled to tell him their worst thoughts and desires, often asking his permission to act on their deepest darker impulses. He also learns their real feelings about him, including his own family who truly don't believe in his innocence.

Soon realizing that his new abilities could be helpful to him, Ig uses his powers to hunt down Merrin's real killer. That quest uncovers some nasty answers and hard choices that have to be made in order to find true peace.

I did see the film adaptation before reading the book and while the movie is rather faithful to the source material, there were enough changes from script to screen that made reading the novel it's own engaging experience.  Ig's plight is very relatable, despite the supernatural elements, as his pain "is a scream that pierces dimensional walls", much like one of my favorite characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow. The only difference is that she actively sought out paranormal assistance for her troubles while poor Ig just stumbles into this bizarrely sinister solution.

I've been reading quite a bit of Joe Hill lately and while there are some themes and tones that do link him to his father in the literary sense, he clearly has a very unique imagination that allows him to make his original stamp upon the paranormal landscape. Horns is strange,sad, darkly humorous at times and yet is a tender love story to treasure:

I do confess to being overly ambitious in thinking that Stephen King's It could be read within a week(my paperback copy is over a thousand pages,after all!). However, I was planning to reread it at some point and will continue with the book for the remainder of the month.

While I do tend to revisit Stephen King during FrightFall, news of a big screen adaptation of It did peak my interest in reading it again. Frankly, I was shocked when the made for TV version was made, considering the whole kid eating monster thing. Not something that you'd expect to see on prime time back in 1990 but at least Tim Curry was evilly effective as Pennywise.

Reading it along side Horns, I did spot a few connect the dots moments, as both stories have flashbacks to particular moments in the characters' childhoods that later define their adult actions, complete with bullies to be fought and fears overcome. Horns is it's own creature, mind you, but it does share a couple of talking points with the elder King's monster mash magnum opus.

 The main difference of course is that Horns has it's leading man turn into a monster who may or may not be the Big Bad while It has no qualms about the true nature of the shapeshifting entity that preys on the youth of Derry,Maine.

There's also plenty of great metaphors about the toxic effect that the title monster has upon the town itself, as numerous times people literally turn a blind eye away from the supernatural menace in their midst as well as the everyday wrongdoings of average folks that grow worse from generation to generation. Pretty scary when a terror tome like this can still feel relevant in this day and age.

It is one of King's maximum sized novels and while some of those big boys could've used a firmer hand in editing, It is not one of them.

 The full impact of the story is best served by the length needed to fully form each and every member of the Loser's Club, from future writer Bill to smartmouth Richie, bighearted Ben, perhaps not so illness prone Eddie, the stillwaters of Stan, steadfast Mike and the brave heart of Beverly.

 Some of the story choices may be odd ,to say the least, but the power of the overall work lies in the characters and their united faith in one another. You can still see the influence that this book has had on the pop culture, with the most recent example being the Netflix series Stranger Things.

Granted, that show is set in the eighties but a band of kids joining forces to stop the supernatural terror in their small town that none of the grown-ups are not willing to admit is happening? That's definitely Stephen King country and from what I hear, he's pretty happy about that:

Next year, FrightFall will last the entire month of October, which sounds great to me. In the meanwhile, I'm happy to have shared this special seasonal reading time with Michelle of SOR and the many other eager readers out there getting their page turning scare on. This has been quite the literary monster mash but at least this has all been in good fearsome fun, which Halloween really ought to be for all:

1 comment:

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

Great post, as usual! What could be better than reading books by King authors? Not much! Sadly, I have not read any of Joe Hill's books yet, although I own them all. I did see the Horns film and thought is was pretty good. I like Daniel Radcliffe anyway. :-) IT is another book I have not managed to finish yet, but I hope to before the movie comes out. I loved the 1990 mini-series.

Thanks for joining us! I'm excited that FrightFall will be a month long next year too. I'm glad I decided to make that call.

I hope you will join us for Christmas Spirit next month. Enjoy the remainder of your scary month reading!