Saturday, April 10, 2010

Books of Blood (Vol 1) by Clive Barker

Clive Barker's Books Of Blood have, since their publication between the years of 1984 - 1986, remained the hallmark of dark fantasy and horror fiction. Upon their publication, Barker was made an overnight success, prompting Stephen King to herald him as an "important, exciting, and enormously talented writer".

Much has changed since then, but the stories contained in these books remain legendary in horror not only as a part of important/must read fiction, but in some cases film as well.

To view the complete list of stories contained in Volume One, visit Barker's Official Website. The series is available as standalone volumes, and as a two-book omnibus. Tonight, I've decided to give you a run down of some of my favorites from Book One.

Book 1 - To miss any of the stories in this book in particular would be a sin. From the very first line of The Book of Blood, we - the reader - know we're being taken on a journey to some place special. It's really a very simple line: "The Dead have highways." But it is one of the most effective ones in the history of horror. The story then follows a psychic researcher, Mary Florescu, who has hired a fake medium named Simon McNeal to investigate a supposedly haunted house. At first, he pretends to see visions, but soon thereafter the dead do start to visit him and attack carving their stories, purportedly contained in the rest of the book, into his skin.

Many more successful stories came out of this first volume including The Midnight Meat Train - which was turned into a movie in 2008, The Yattering and Jack - which shows Barker's more deviously funny side, Pig Blood Blues, and Sex, Death and Starshine, but it's the last story that truly steals the show.

As one of Barker's most fantastic stories to date, In the Hills, the Cities treats us to the ultra weird yet infinitely brutal story of two neighboring cities - Podujevo and Popolac - who tie together the bodies of the citizens of each respective city during a ritual that takes place every 10 years, in order to create two towering giants. Something goes wrong and the city of Podujevo collapses, killing thirty-eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty five residents and creating a ravine of their blood. The story follows two gay lovers - Mick and Judd - who are on a romantic weekend trip, as they find the remnants of the giant of Podujevo. What happens afterwards is something that truly has to be read in order to be believed.

Barker's ability to marry the brutal and the beautiful will never fail to enthrall even the most jaded of readers. When an author as talented as this is at the helm, one doesn't have a choice but to suspend his or her disbelief and blindly "follow the leader" into a dark and sometimes painful place within the walls of his imagination. And honestly, who could possibly be better to lead than Clive Barker?

PBH

3 comments:

  1. I read the first three volumes last year. Loved them to pieces. And I'm inclined to believe the first volume is the strongest of the bunch. So many good stories pack in this one.

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  2. I would have thought so too, but they've both got their individual strengths. If you get a chance, take a look at the second volume. It's incredible as well.

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  3. Barker may have advanced plenty as a writer in the quarter-century (!) since these stories were published, but it's always fun to go back to revisit them. I especially like the editions of BOOKS that have his paintings on the covers. He's in a class by himself.

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