Book review: The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker review

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Clive Barker was born in Liverpool in 1952. His earlier books include The Books of Blood, Cabal, and The Hellbound Heart. In addition to his work as a novelist and playwright, he also illustrates, writes, directs and produces for stage and screen. His films include Hellraiser, Hellbound, Nightbreed and Candyman. Clive lives in Beverly Hills, California

Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reissue edition (October 2, 2007)  Page count: 186

Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart will make your skin crawl with dread and fascination. As a fan of the dark and twisted, I couldn’t resist delving into the depths of Barker’s imagination. And let me tell you – it was an unsettling trip that transported me to a world of darkness and depravity.

The atmosphere of this book is haunting. From the very first page, Barker’s use of language paints a vivid picture of a world both familiar and yet strangely otherworldly. The descriptions of the Lemarchand Configuration, a puzzle box that unlocks a gateway to a dimension of unimaginable horror, are memorable. The mythos that Barker has created around this object and the beings that inhabit the other side (Cenobites) are impressive. And I’m ready to make a bet that even if you hadn’t read the book (or even heard about it), you recognize iconic Pinhead. 

The Cenobites themselves are a fascinating creation, with their twisted bodies and insatiable lust for pain.

No review of this book would be complete without mentioning the gore and violence that permeate its pages. Barker does not shy away from depicting the most gruesome and disturbing scenes, but he does so in a an artful way. The result is a book that never crosses the line of gratuitous but moves so close to it that it’s both ghastly and beautiful.

However, I had a few reservations about the book. The characters are difficult to empathize with. They’re memorable but they also lack depth or complexity. Sure, their flaws and desires are very human – but they go to extremes that make them hard to relate to on a personal level. Also, the abrupt and frequent changes in point of view between scenes can jar and disrupt the flow of the narrative. Such POV changes are my pet peeve.

Despite these criticisms, I enjoyed this book. Barker’s writing is visceral and unflinching in its portrayal of human depravity. He doesn’t shy away from showing the extremes of human behavior, whether it’s sexual desire, violence, or the pursuit of power. And yet, there’s a certain elegance to his writing that makes even the most horrific scenes strangely beautiful.

Overall, The Hellbound Heart is a gripping tale of horror and desire. While it may not be for everyone, those who are drawn to the macabre and unsettling will find much to love in this book. I highly recommend it to fans of the genre, and to anyone who’s looking for a dark and compelling read.

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