The Damnation Game by Clive Barker
“It wasn’t difficult to smudge sexuality into violence, turn sighs into screams, thrusts into convulsions. The grammar was the same; only the punctuation differed.”
Somehow, this quote nicely sums up what makes Barker’s writing unique. It’s the most sensual, overtly sexualized horror I’m familiar with. The Damnation Game takes the Books-of-Blood era Barker style and turns it into a horrific, full-length beast of a novel. It is quite simply the most evil book I’ve ever read, and absolutely not for the faint of heart. Virtually no taboo is left unexplored, and the vile and loathsome are paraded across every dark corner of London and post-war Warsaw.
The plot is detailed but fairly simple: a gambler makes a Faustian deal.
Bonus points for: the coolest necromancy I’ve read in a novel, some truly disturbing stuff, including the first use of the word “autocannibalism” that I’ve ever read.
At nearly five hundred pages, The Damnation Game is meaty enough that it takes a bit of effort to get through, but if you like your horror and perversion raw and wriggling, then it’s a fine ride.