Ignatius Perrish’s girlfriend Merrin was brutally murdered one day, and Ig becomes the prime suspect. If the evidence collected had actually been examined, it would have clearly exonerated him from the crime, but all of it disappeared in a mysterious fire at the police station. Hence, without any evidence, he wasn’t prosecuted. However, that doesn’t change that everyone thinks that he’s guilty, and that his father, a rich former musician had pulled strings to get him out of doing time. And hence with the world against him, Ig’s life turns to hell. His brother strongly defends him, which actually surprised him, considering he was one his way to becoming a celebrity as well and definitely didn’t need a scandal, but in the end he has his own places to be and leaves their little town of Gideon for LA. His former closest friend Lee isn’t as open, as he’s an aid to a moral high ground touting congressman, and doesn’t need to be lumped with someone understood to be a murderer, which Ig can understand. Ultimately, all that he’s left with is his family and Glenna, a girl as desperate for company as he is. And hence he continues his crappy existence.
But one day Ignatius Perrish wakes up after an especially hard night of drinking and who knows what. He doesn’t remember anything about what happened to him the previous night, but he suddenly has horns poking out of his skin. And not just that, these horns seem to have the strange power of drawing out others deepest darkest desires and having them act upon them. It’s a very difficult power to deal with, and hearing the darkness in those close to him is more than he can bare, but in time this ends up putting him on the path to discovering what truly happened to Merrin many years ago.
This novel has a very interesting premise to start off. The mechanics of being able to hear everyone’s darkest thoughts and desires and have them act on it, or not, is very interesting, and applying it to random bystanders results in a number of interesting situations and manifests Ig as the devil very strongly. Him learning about what his family and other people that know him think of him in the aftermath of the murder is also interesting. Him piecing together what actually occurred back then, and how Lee isn’t anything like what he appears to be was also interesting enough. But once that’s over, things get a lot more dull. Firstly, it drags on too long without adding much more. Ig’s growth in becoming a devil doesn’t increase his psychological powers at all, which are what are interesting, but rather increases a random set of physical traits, such as the ability to command snakes or breath fire, which I suppose are somewhat interesting, but in the end the scenes that utilized them are pretty weak. Hill’s ability to write action pales in comparison to his writing of the emotion focused conflicts earlier on, and hence with the latter portions of the book heavily being focused on action with little of the actual interesting powers from earlier on, the writing all around seems rather lacking. It’s at this point that he also tries to hound in his anti-religious points too hard as opposed to the more subtle but better way he started the novel off. Furthermore, while his mental powers seem relatively consistent at first when they’re just used as looks into others minds and souls, when he begins using them intentionally to influence others and have things happen, they seem to become completely arbitrary, working sometimes, and failing sometimes. All of this peaks towards the ending, where the powers and their mechanics matter far too much for how randomly they seem to work, a bunch of metaphors and motifs are used far too quickly with none of them really having much value and just convoluting the thing far too much, and ending on a note with not much answered nor any feeling of continuity with why certain characters are doing what they’re doing based on their established characters.
An interesting premise and well written beginning that changes tremendously as it goes forward into something far less good.