Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

The Hellbound Heart is a tightly written horror novella. Apparently it served as the inspiration for the Hellraiser series of films.

In The Hellbound Heart, Frank, a man for whom life’s pleasures have ceased to be enough is given a puzzle box. Once opened, the puzzle box summons a breed of sadomasochistic demons from another dimension, who thrive on torturing eternally those mortals who foolishly open the box.

Somehow, Frank’s tormented soul escapes from the Cenobytes and inhabits an attic room in the house where his brother and his brother’s unpleasant wife life.

I’ll not give away anything further except to comment, as I have before, that I really admire the unique tone, the brutality, and the overt sexuality of Barker’s writing. Lots of good wordplay here, like mixing “abattoir” and “boudoir” for example, or fun phrases like, “his flesh a catalog of torments”, and so on…In the early to mid eighties, Barker was doing things in the horror genre that were quite outside of what the mainstream horror novelists attempted.

This novel was fun, vicious, and fast.

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