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Books of Blood [Paperback]

Clive Barker
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 16 1995
Volume 1 of the tale of horror and fantasy from the author who also writes, directs and produces for the screen.

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"Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we're opened, we're red." For those who only know Clive Barker through his long multigenre novels, this one-volume edition of the Books of Blood is a welcome chance to acquire the 16 remarkable horror short stories with which he kicked off his career. For those who already know these tales, the poignant introduction is a window on the creator's mind. Reflecting back after 14 years, Barker writes:

I look at these pieces and I don't think the man who wrote them is alive in me anymore.... We are all our own graveyards I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were. If we're healthy, every day is a celebration, a Day of the Dead, in which we give thanks for the lives that we lived; and if we are neurotic we brood and mourn and wish that the past was still present.

Reading these stories over, I feel a little of both. Some of the simple energies that made these words flow through my pen--that made the phrases felicitous and the ideas sing--have gone. I lost their maker a long time ago.

These enthusiastic tales are not ashamed of visceral horror, of blood splashing freely across the page: "The Midnight Meat Train," a grisly subway tale that surprises you with one twist after another; "The Yattering and Jack," about a hilarious demon who possesses a Christmas turkey; "In the Hills, the Cities," an unusual example of an original horror premise; "Dread," a harrowing non-supernatural tale about being forced to realize your worst nightmare; "Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament," about a woman who kills men with her mind. Some of the tales are more successful than others, but all are distinguished by strikingly beautiful images of evil and destruction. No horror library is complete without them. --Fiona Webster --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Published last year in Britain as three paperback originals, these short narratives garnered impressive reviews. This edition, Barker's first hardcover appearance in America, gathers together 16 stories in one volume as the author originally intended and contains eerily effective illustrations by fantasy artists J. K. Potter and Harry O. Morris. The tales are of varying quality and will please mostly readers who like their horror bloody and graphic. An occasional reliance on hokey set-ups and deus ex machinas, and the frequent shifting of intention in mid-story are jarring qualities, however. Further, a pervasive misanthropy colors the narratives and makes them unpleasant in a way the author probably didn't intend. The best entry, "Human Remains," about a male hustler and his doppelganger, isthe only one in which the author actually seems to like his protagonist.Also good are the almost dreamlike"New Murders in the Rue Morgue," "Scape-goats," about an island that is an altar to the drowned, and "Son of Celluloid," which generates a full complement of chills. Ramsey Campbell has contributed a lavishly praiseful introduction. November 15
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of stories Feb. 10 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lots of horror stories, it's a good read, definitely worth it. It's been a while since I read it, but enjoyed it. One of my co-workers now has it and is addicted to it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Buy!!! Nov. 2 2013
By Yohan79
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a wonderful book! A great piece to have if you're a huge barker fan like myself. From Rawhead Rex to Midnight Meat Train, these collections of shorts were at the beginning of Barker's career.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very very good book. Jan. 29 2013
By Adamo
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A hit and miss collection of short stories, with definitely more hits than misses. And when they hit, they hit HARD. Never a huge fan of the horror genre (grew up reading tons of Stephen King but that was about it) I was pleasantly surprised to realize just how literary Barker is. His turn of a phrase and eloquent command of the English language is astounding, especially considering this is "genre" fiction. Definitely worth reading, though certainly not for the faint of heart.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Barker really gets down to business in Volume 3 Aug. 16 2003
By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Clive Barker is all business in his Books of Blood Volume Three, and that business is sex and violence. There is no stray dark comedy piece along the lines of Volume One's The Yattering and Jack to be found in these pages. These five stories take us to realms of pain and bloody death, sometimes pushing the envelope on the new kind of dark horror Barker helped pioneer.

Son of Celluloid is by far my favorite of these stories. I love the unusual premise and the surreal quality of the piece. Basically, the back wall behind the screen of an old movie theatre has seen so many famous lives projected upon it that somehow the essence of those screen legends has germinated within its neglected existence. The only thing needed to bring the screen personalities to life is a catalyst, which comes in the form of a dying criminal. The man himself is of no consequence, but he has within him a force with ambition and a single-minded drive to grow and thrive. This driving force is cancer, and I find Barker's unusual appraisal of the silent killer to be a fascinating one. Next up is Rawhead Rex, one of Barker's more violent stories. There are creatures that thrived on earth long before man helped force them to the brink of extinction, and things get pretty gruesome when one fellow unknowingly unseals the prison in which such a monster has been sealed for eons. Murder of a more human (albeit post-human) kind rests at the heart of Confessions of a (Pornographer's) Shroud. This tale doesn't succeed completely in my estimation, and some might even find it oddly laughable, as the main character is an amorphous blob of a dead man's essence who reconstitutes the form of his human body in his own death shroud.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very...dark. July 5 2004
By A Customer
The stories in this book are some of the most bizare and unflinching stories i've ever read that don't ever tone it down. It has a very dark feel to it the whole way through. One thing i really liked about the book was that a lot of these stories are like nightmares. I mean, some of the stories don't even make that much sense, they just get dark and disturbingly nightmarish. The reason i gave it four stars is because there is a reoccuring ending that becomes frequent with more than one of the stories to the point where some of them were becoming predictable. But you can't do a review of a short-story book without a discription of each:
The Book of Blood: Just a little intro to the rest of the book. A detective in a haunted house gets all of the stories of the book carved into his flesh by spirits in a haunted house.
The Midnight Meat Train: A guy runs into a sereal killer on a subway station in London, and is led into a subteranean world where he discovers grusome secrets. This story has a reoccuring ending.
The Yattering and Jack: Didn't like this one. It's about a little Goblin bugging a family on Christmas. It's supposed to be funny.
Pig Blood Blues: THis is the first one i actually read. I liked this one a lot, because it reminded me of a nightmare I myself have had before, and i'm sure it's inspired by a nightmare of Barkers. It's about a kid who is admitted into a Juvenile dention facility, and hears rumors about a kid who committed suicide. Turns out, the kid is possessing a big sow outside. Very creepy.
Sex, Death, and Starshine: Didn't like this one. It's about a soap opera cast and their run in with the supernatural. The ending is just like Midnight Meat Train.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best horror Clive Barkers ever written June 30 2004
By A Customer
Ive read almost all of Barkers works and this is his best horror novel. Lots of the stories would make great horror films. "Rawhead Rex" has been made into a cheesy horror film and "Midnight Meat Train" is in production. Almost all of the stories introduce some sort of demons, monsters, cult members, or killers out to dish some hardcore bloody horror. Very NC17 with a dark sense of humor. If you are bored of Barkers fantasy tales like Weaveworld, Imagica, or Galilee, and want to sink you teeth into something with a darker bite check this out. Better than Damnation Game and Hellbound Heart.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the weak of heart--or mind May 5 2004
Clive Barker, I can say, is hands down the best in his genre. Which one has to admit is rather widening. However, the Books of Blood, as one of his first published works is strict fantastic intelligent horror. If you love King, you may find yourself a new favorite in Barker. His writing is absolutely magical, his words flow like poetry and his imagry is dark and powerful. This collection of short stories gives you a little taste of all his sides. Eroticism, humor, horror, suspence, and a bit of mystery and science fiction thrown in. It is not for those who enjoy fairytales and happy endings. I recommend it to anyone openminded and looking for a fabulous new read.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Clive Barker's First Works
Super cool stories that are very creepy. Definitely shows just how he became such a fantastic horror and fantasy writer over the years. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Samantha K Krewulak
3.0 out of 5 stars Check it out at the library
This book was not great or even that good. There is nothing significant that will stand out other than the story about the giant made of human bodies. Read more
Published on May 19 2004 by mikal
4.0 out of 5 stars Horror and Clive Barker's Books of Blood
These stories serve as an introduction to Clive Barker. These were his first published works. Prior to this, he was writing stage plays. Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2004 by MaryB
5.0 out of 5 stars Best thing out there.
I used to love Stephen King novels until I ran into Barker's Books of Blood. For me, it raised the bar for horror fiction world-wide. Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2003 by henry estevan
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect introduction to the dark genius of Clive Barker
Clive Barker did not want his Books of Blood broken up into individual volumes when they were published, yet that is what happened. Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2003 by Daniel Jolley
5.0 out of 5 stars The birth of a true horror visionary
With Volume One of Books of Blood, Clive Barker burst upon the horror scene like a giant supernova exploding in space, mixing an obvious love for the more gruesome aspects of the... Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2003 by Daniel Jolley
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