Written by: Wayne C. Rogers
Here’s one of my old reviews from Fantasy Mongers in 1985. I purchased the limited edition of Books of Blood by Clive Barker from Scream Press for $30.00. It’s probably worth a thousand dollars now. Unfortunately, it was one of the books I had to sell in order to raise the money to move out west back in 1986. It was truly a beautiful edition with stunning illustrations and Clive Barker’s autograph inside of it.
I thought you might enjoy reading the review.
Bored with the everyday humdrums of work, school and home? Need some excitement and maybe a little fear in your life to get that old heart pumping its warm, red blood through those tired arteries of yours? If so, you might consider buying Clive Barker’s anthology of short stories, the Books of Blood, and risk a journey into a nightmarish world filled with such excursions as a butcher whose specialty is serving the flesh of man, a psychopathic killer with the face of a clown, an audience of rotting corpses attending the last Shakespearean performance in a dying theater, or a reform school that punishes criminals by hanging them up in the barnyard so that the livestock can feed off of them. Believe me this is a journey that will reach down into the very marrow of your bones, twisting and holding you within its firm grip and finally leaving you with the rather uneasy feeling that Mr. Barker has found the magic key that can unlock the deepest and darkest regions of your mind for all to see.
Shaking your head in disbelief?
How about a ride on “The Midnight Meat Train”? In the black caverns of New York City’s subway system there’s a train when the only passengers are naked and dead, hanging upside down by their feet from the ceiling, food for the strange race of creatures waiting at the last stop.
Ah, perhaps the Books of Blood is starting to sound more interesting now.
How does the act of voyeurism grab you with just a touch of sadism thrown in? Oh, I see a raised eyebrow of curiosity. In the “Dread”, a university student with somewhat of a deranged mind lures two of his friends into an unwilling experiment in which they are psychologically tortured while he carefully observes their every reaction, waiting patiently for them to reach the breaking point. Payback time, however, proves to be pure hell when he pushed one of the two over the brink and into utter madness.
Ever run a race with the Devil right on your heels? Read “Hell’s Event” in the world’s freedom is the number one prize. Find out what fear is like when you’re running for your life and the horror of hell is right behind you, hoping you’ll look back just once so that it can get you.
Now what do you suppose sex with a living corpse is like? I would imagine it’s quite different to say the least. The director of the Twelfth Night in “Sex, Death and Starshine” will find out when his leading lady is murdered, and then comes back for that last fling. That, however, isn’t the climax—no pun intended—but rather the beginning of bigger things to come for the rest of the cast.
This is only a brief glimpse at a fourth of the stories inside Barker’s Books of Blood. It should give you a fairly good idea of what to expect if you decide to take this journey.
Believe me, this 445-page book is literally the stuff of nightmares. Add the breathtaking artwork of J.K. Potter and Harry O. Morris, and you won’t sleep for a week after finishing this superb collection of short stories by one of the newest writers in the field. Stephen King calls Clive Barker “the future of horror.”
He may be right.
When I read Books of Blood in 1985, I thought King was indeed right. This was new author who could take you places into the world of horror that few others seemed capable of doing. Unfortunately, except for The Damnation Game and Hellraiser and maybe Coldheart Canyon, Barker went off into other directions, leaving a lot of disappointed fans behind. He did, however, find more new fans with his writings of fantasy and children stories.