Monday, 10 February 2014

The Hellbound Heart - Clive Barker


Frank Cotton is bored of life: long, wild years have left him unable to find excitement and his lustful, lecherous nature has left him unable to find love or satisfaction. It was upon his travels that he first heard of Lemarchand's Box, a gateway to the world of the Cenobites – beings that can bring untold pleasures. After years he manages to attain it, but what is pleasurable for a human may be very different to that of sadistic demons . . . Soon, Frank may wish that he left the otherworldly monsters completely alone . . .

The Good
The Hellbound Heart is a novella so maintains a very fast, exciting pace throughout its 128 pages. Despite its short word count, Clive Barker doesn't skimp on description and manages to build a vivid picture of the mutilated Cenobites and the torture they are able to inflict on us mortals. His tight, inventive language really adds to the atmosphere of horror he creates and the book is nearly as shocking as Hellraiser (1987), its Hollywood adaptation.

Many of you might have seen Hellraiser even if you haven''t read the book, so you know that the story itself is clever and pretty unique. I liked its slightly unconventional view of the demonic arts, where Frank actually called the Cenobites himself because he was eager to sample to pleasures they were reputed to provide. Barker also managed to twist my emotions in the story, so I was actually routing for the antagonist for much of it, as I could really see why he was so eager to escape from the Order of the Gash!

The Bad
As might be expected for one of Barker’s horrors, the book can be a little gory in places and he certainly has no qualms about describing blood and death. The Hellbound Heart can also be a little crude and, with scenes of torture and nonchalant murder, it certainly isn't for the faint hearted!

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed reading The Hellbound Heart and it has been one of the best horrors I've read in a long time. It has a dark, morbid story that is full of torture and death and Barker has a very clever way of writing that conveys a lot of imagery in just a few words. The book is undisputedly worthy of its place on my ‘Shelf of Fame’ and I will certainly be reading more of Clive Barker’s work. I suggest you do the same!

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