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on March 12, 2017
Fast paced great of short stories, chills and thrills. Arrived early, nicely packaged.
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on September 26, 2002
Barker is a very different horror-writer, than the more commercial succesful writers like King or Koontz. His writing is much more unnerving and surreal than his more popular colleagues.
His work is another world, a world of grotesque and twisted minds and bodies, a world of incredible depravity and senseles pleasure. It is certainly an aquired taste, and not for everyone. To some people it is simply too much.
The Books of Blood vol. 1-3 covers a wide range of depravity from ritual murder over cannibalism and to vengeful spirits.
But the grotesque imagery is also what is attractive about the book. Like a carwreck, you want to turn away, but you can't.
I think I can best describe barker as a mix between H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar A. Poe. A very, very unsettling combination to be sure. Books of Blood is definately not recomended for the faint of heart or as a bedtime story
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on September 26, 2002
Barker is a very different horror-writer, than the more commercial succesful writers like King or Koontz. His writing is much more unnerving and surreal than his more popular colleagues.
His work is another world, a world of grotesque and twisted minds and bodies, a world of incredible depravity and senseles pleasure. It is certainly an aquired taste, and not for everyone. To some people it is simply too much.
The Books of Blood vol. 1-3 covers a wide range of depravity from ritual murder over cannibalism and to vengeful spirits.
But the grotesque imagery is also what is attractive about the book. Like a carwreck, you want to turn away, but you can't.
I think I can best describe barker as a mix between H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar A. Poe. A very, very unsettling combination to be sure. Books of Blood is definately not recomended for the faint of heart or as a bedtime story
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on July 5, 2004
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.
In the HIlls, The CIties: A gay couple travels through the hills of Europe to discover grusomely nightmarish giants. Very dreamlike.
Dread: This is a very Poesque story by Barker. It's about a group of guys that experiment with the human psyche and fear by locking people in dark rooms for days with nothing but a rotting plate of meat to eat. VERY grusome and gory ending.
Hells Event: Didn't really like this. Seemed like more of a witty satire than a nightmarish or entertaining story. It's about people running a race that determines the fate of their soul.
Jacqueline Ess-Her Will and Testament: Perhaps one of my favorite stories. THis is a Barker classic. IT's not meant to be scary, but it's more of a supernatural love story. The ending is CLASSIC-why didn't shakespear or somebody think of it before?--A man looking into a key hole to see his lover on a bed, whom he's been looking for for years; he can't break the door pounding in desperation, and her pimp won't give him the key.
The Skings of the Fathers: It's about giant prehistoric demons that terrorize a small town. Very disturbing ending that is beyond description and nightmare like.
New Muderers in the Rue Morgue: THis is a sequel to the classic Edger Allen Poe "Murders in the Rue Morgue" that was labeled as the very first detective story.
Son of Celluloid: Hated this one. I don't want to ruin the ending, as stupid as it is, but SOMETHING is haunting an old movie theater.
Rawhead Rex: Very grose monster story about a giant big-foot like creature that terrorizes a small town in England.
Confession's of a (pornographers) shroud: THis one was entertaining, but not the best. It's about a pornogropher who runs into some bad people and ends up getting killed. He comes back as a ghost veiled in cloth to get revenge on everyone.
Scape Goats: Barker tells a first person story from the viewpoint of a woman. I've read it twice now and don't understand the ending! I don't think it was meant to make a lot of sense though, just mean to disturb you with nightmarish imegary like Skins of the Fathers. It's about people on a boat who discover an island with a paranoid feeling of impending doom.
All in all, I'd say there's a few stories from each volume I really like, and other than that, it was just entertaining.
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on November 2, 1998
Clive Barker, the multi-talented Liverpudlian, supposedly was to be "the future of horror" (so said no less an authority than Stephen King) with the release of these first three "Books of Blood" way back in 1984. Turned out, however, that with his finely-honed pen, his gift for odd details, locales, and the powerful image, his penchant for mordant wit, the ambiguity with which he infused his stories (are there ever clear demarcations between those hoary old cliches Good & Evil in these tales?) and the sheer glee he took in subverting the genre turned off readers looking for a slice of American Gothic, a la Anne Dean Koontz, John Saul, and even King himself.
I say, leave those authors for the housewives and dilettantes; Barker is the real thing, a writer whose work doesn't comfort, but disturbs. How could readers looking for the traditional horror fiction formula react to stories like "In the Hills, the Cities," "Sex, Death, & Starshine," or "The Last Will & Testament of Jacqueline Ess"? He doesn't want to frighten you so much as radically alter your perception of the world. The horror genre is too often reactionary as it tries to banish the monster, the alien, the seemingly terrifying. Barker wants transformation; his characters confront the darkness, and find themselves changed, often times for the better, when they embrace it (literally, in the climax of "Jacqueline Ess").
Rather than recommend this to conventional horror fans, I say readers who like to challenge themselves should check these out--perhaps readers of Martin Amis or Julian Barnes or Jeanette Winterson, or Jorge Luis Borges, or Italo Calvino. Then again, maybe I'm wrong--Barker's work is graphically blood-drenched, which gained him a reputation in the mid-80s as a splatterpunk, which of course anyone who has read later, more mature works like "Weaveworld," "Sacrament" or "Imajica" will realize how inaccurate that is.
I think Barker is nearly a poet of horror in these stories, with prose as elegant and vivid as any of those writers mentioned above, and I think he deserves a wider readership. Here, in this new trade paperback, he has written a great introduction, one in which he reveals how he has changed over the years since he wrote the "Books of Blood." It's a thoughtful, perceptive, funny, vulgar essay, classic Barker, and the visions you'll find within are no less wonderful.
"Future of horror"? Thankfully not. Clive Barker transcends any genre, and remains untouchable.
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on January 29, 2013
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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on December 6, 1999
Terrific short stories.
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on February 28, 2004
These stories serve as an introduction to Clive Barker. These were his first published works. Prior to this, he was writing stage plays. As a first effort of a writer, they are great. They evoke images, such as "In the Hills, the Cities", that stay with you for days. In the 80's, when these books were written, they were breaking new ground. Mr. Barker is able to conjure up horrific images without covering you in blood, for the most part.
I think that these stories will whet your appetite for the more mature works of Mr. Barker, such as The Great and Secret Show, and Everville.
As with many writers, some of the movie adaptations of these stories leave much to be desired. The best actually had Clive Barker involved, such as the original Hellraiser (the Hellbound Heart), Nightbreed (based on Cabal).
New readers, that have become jaded on the raw, in your face horror of the current writers, may miss out on some of the more subtle nuances in this freshman outing by Mr. Barker. He attempts, and mostly succeeds, in taking an everyday situation with ordinary people and sending out into the world of the horrific. Horror does not equal blood an gore but that feeling of dreading to turn the page to find out what happens next. Barker succeeds in this with these short stories.
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on April 24, 2000
As one person who wrote a review for this, I am an avid horror reader. But, unlike that same person, I love this book. Chilling, though-provoking, and yes, even a little bit funny. These tales really get in under your skin, literally! I liked most of the stories, but some where not good. I shall now tell you about my favorite tales.
"The Book of Blood": A man opens the highway, and in doing so, gets these stories engraved on his skin. Pretty wicked.
"The Midnight Meat Train": A newcomer in New York. A man who kills on the subway for a higher power. Guess what happens? They meet(no pun intended). One of his grosser tales, with VERY VIVID descripitions(spelled it wrong, I think). The first story I read.
"The Yattering and Jack": A funnier story, with little gore. The Yattering(a demon) is assigned the least caring man in the world. The turkey scene is a classic!
"Pig Blood Blues": A boy hangs himself in a barn, and still lingers about... Not his best story. the fact that they are putting it in the Books of Blood movie disgusts me. Still, pretty bloody.
"In the Hills, the Cities": Cities join in an old battle. Two, um, "lovers" see the battle. Quite possibly the bloodiest, not goriest, tale in the book. The first story by Barker I EVER read.
"The Skins of the Fathers": Demons. Mountain town. Nuff said. Pretty cool, with lotsa cool monsters.
"Jaqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament": A women can do things to men with her mind. Very erotic ending. Also, the man into women scene is not to be skimmed!
"Rawhead Rex": An old monster gets loose in a village. The best monster story ever made!
Half of the stories in the book! I would describe the other stories, but that would be to many words.
To end, I say anyone who likes Koontz, rainbows, dolls, bedtime stories, and sweet dreams, should look elswhere. But if you like King, lightning, gory tales, and nightmares, read this! It will keep you up all night!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 26, 2003
Clive Barker did not want his Books of Blood broken up into individual volumes when they were published, yet that is what happened. Now, the first three volumes are available in one book, serving as the perfect introduction to Barker's unique style of horror. There are some really groundbreaking stories included here, alongside of a dud or two from Volume Two, but each and every story exhibits the genius and originality of its author's dark vision.
The initial offering, The Book of Blood, stands out as a unique ghost story, but it also serves as a provocative abstract for everything Barker sought to accomplish with these stories. After this enticing introductory tale, we head below the streets of New York to sneak a ride on The Midnight Meat Train. This story is vintage Clive Barker, full of blood and gore. Barker isn't trying to drown the reader in blood as a means to hide any lack of skill on his part, though, because the skill is undeniably there for all to see. In The Yattering and Jack, a dark comedy farce, a poor demon does everything he can think of to make the unshakeable Jack miserable, driving himself almost mad in the process. I think of The Yattering and Jack as an amusing sort of Barker bedtime story. Pig Blood Blues forces the casual reader to once again don hip hugger boots for a trek into gore and depravity. At a certain school for wayward boys, the other white meat is not pork. Sex, Death and Starshine is a good story, touching upon the needs of the dead to be entertained every once in a while, but it lacks a certain oomph.
Dread is a somewhat sadistic tale of one man's obsession with death. His is a hands-on endeavor, as he seeks to look the beast directly in the eye by studying the effects of dread and the realization of imminent death in the eyes of his fellow man. Dread is a psychologically disturbing read, one which succeeds quite well indeed in spite of a rather pat ending. Hell's Event tells the story of a charity race, only this particular contest pits a minion of the underworld against human runners, with the control of the very government hinging upon the outcome. Next up is Jacqueline Ess: Her Last Will and Testament, a disappointing story in which the main character's special abilities to control the things and people around her wind up wasted. The Skins of the Fathers is not a bad story, but it is quite weird. A sometimes almost comical group of inhuman, bizarre creatures comes to a small desert town to reclaim one of their own, born five years earlier to a human mother. A puffed up sheriff and belligerent posse of townsfolk lend comic relief as much as tension to the story's plot of borderline absurdity.
I love the unusual premise and the surreal quality of Son of Celluloid. The back wall behind the screen of an old movie theatre has seen so many famous lives projected upon it that the essence of those screen legends has germinated within it. 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 possessing a single-minded drive to grow and thrive. 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 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 a death shroud. Scape-Goats is a little island of death story, the most interesting aspect of which is its viewpoint; it is not often that Barker tells a tale from the first-person perspective of a woman. The final story, Human Remains, offers Barker's typically unusual slant on the old doppelganger motif.
I have saved the worst and best of the collected stories for special mention. New Murders in the Rue Morgue is by far the worst short story Barker has ever written. We are led to believe Poe's classic story The Murders in the Rue Morgue was based on fact, and now the modern representative of the Dupin blood finds himself mired in an extraordinary, eerily similar, and exceedingly ludicrous case of his own. On the flip side, the most impressive story told in these pages is In the Hills, the Cities. Two male lovers touring the hidden sights of Yugoslavia become the reluctant witnesses to a sight few men could ever even conceive of when a unique traditional battle between the citizens of two adjacent towns takes an unexpected and ever-so-destructive turn. If you want to know what the big deal about Clive Barker is, this is the story you need to read. Books of Blood immediately established Barker as a giant in the genre and should be required reading for all fans of extreme and intellectually challenging horror.
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