Here’s my take on Clive Barker’s catalogue.
1. The Books of Blood
2. The Thief of Always
3. The Great and Secret Show
7. Clive Barker’s A-Z of Horror
10. The Hellbound Heart
11. Mister B Gone
12. The Damnation Game
Incarnations: Three Plays
Days of Magic, Nights of War
Man, I have long considered Barker one of the high horror masters but looking at this list makes me realise he doesn’t have that deep a bench. Wow, I did not see this coming. I’m kind of saddened by this.
There are two classics in this list. That is all.
The Books of Blood I would rank in my Top Ten of all time, I think. Insanely inventive and gory fun. Barker really thought outside the square on these. I think they work because he’s not so busy building the mythology and so instead just uses all he brings to the page. He’s snappy and scarier for it.
In The Hills, The Cities is one of my favourite shorts of all time purely for the concept. If you do not know of it, track it down.
The Thief of Always is simply superb. Buy this book for every kid you know and enjoy how they light up. Subversive and yet still safe.
I really have fond memories of Galilee but could not concretely tell you why it is so high. I just dug that book. It would be the first one to reread so I could see why it struck a chord.
The Great and Secret Show is really great at many things. It builds mythology, spreads out a far cast of characters, and has that Barker stamp of crazy. It’s well followed up by Everville but the series is one step off greatness.
I’m wondering if the Books of the Art will ever get finished.
Abarat, the first book, has a beautiful opening line. I’ve used it in class for art plenty a time. The rest of the book is pretty special, too.
I have yet to read the rest of the Abarat books. But I will. I hope.
Cabal is a descent book. I think I enjoy the movie more. Gasp.
The Hellbound Heart might be another where the flick really delivered it spot on. Hmm…
Weaveworld just didn’t grab me. A shame, really. The same with The Damnation Game. Man, for a master, there’s a lot here at meh and below.
Mister B. Gone was an interesting experiment but it ultimately disappeared from my mind as soon as I was done.
I don’t think I’ve read Imajica. I think I’d remember something that hefty. Sacrament doesn’t call out to me at all. I tried Coldheart Canyon once and bailed but I blame the time not the book – I will try this one again some day.
I kind of wish I hadn’t done this list now. It’s just showed me all the flaws. Oh well, I’ll always have that which I love.
I can remember going to my second hand book shop in high school and finding a heap of the old Tapping The Vein comic collections of the adaptations of the Books of Blood stories. They were pretty damn good. Steve Niles did a bunch of them.
I also like a bunch of the Barker movie adaptations, though he’s got his fair share of stinkers.
I can remember buying this rare VHS of Barker’s early college flicks – Salome and The Forbidden. They were so weird but it cost me like $50 and I was determined to like them. That tape is long gone now.
Harry D’Amour has always been a favourite of mine. I wrote about him for Horror Factory. Enjoy.
What are your thoughts on Clive Barker?