Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker

*This is a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% mine.

Even if you're not a horror film fan, you've probably heard of the movie "Hellraiser" and it's eight sequels, which seven of the films featured Doug Bradley as the demonic villain Pinhead. The first film was based on the 1986 novella "The Hellbound Heart" by Clive Barker, whom also directed the original film.

There has been talk for years about Barker's upcoming anthology The Scarlet Gospels, which would feature Pinhead vs Harry D'Armour, another popular character from Barker's works, in one of the stories. Eventually, the unrelated stories were shoved aside and Barker expanded "The Hellbound Heart" sequel into a full novel.

The Scarlet Gospels is finally arriving in bookstores today. Luckily, I received an advanced review copy several weeks ago, so I could have this post published on the release day. While I had never read "Everville" or any of the short stories that featured Harry D'Armour, I have seen the Clive Barker's Lord of Illusions film, so I had a bit of an idea of what the character was about.

The plot involves the blind medium Norma Paine (a recurring Barker character) being contacted the newly deceased Carston Goode, a lawyer who dabbled with black magic, whom demands to hire the private detective Harry D'Armour to cleanup his dark hobby before his wife and kids learn about his habits. It seems like an easy case for Harry, well, until he stumbles upon the Lament Configuration puzzle box and steps into the pathway of Pinhead and the Cenobites.

Harry barely escapes the deadly encounter, but it won't be the last time he faces Pinhead (aka the Hell Priest). A war has been brewing in Hell, and Pinhead wants to take the throne from Lucifer, whom has been dormant for awhile. After Norma is kidnapped by Pinhead, Harry and his pals (Caz, Lana and Dale) must travel through the pits of Hell to get her back.

Despite the fact that I do own several titles by Clive Barker, I've only read The Hellbound Heart, which I read when I was in high school in the late '90s. I'm a big fan of the Hellraiser films; I even like all the bad sequels, minus Revelations.

The Scarlet Gospels starts out strong with a group of magicians opening the puzzle box and unleashes the Hell Priest and his Cenobites, and as you can probably guess, it gets a little gory from there. Clive Barker cleverly ties in his detective character, Harry D'Armour, into the Cenobite world. The plot is pretty tight and plays out more like a movie than a novel at times. While Pinhead only had a small bit in the original novella, he has a huge part to do with this novel. The descriptions of Hell are frightening, but the dialogue could have been better written. Overall, The Scarlet Gospels is fast-paced gorefest from start to finish. Fans have waited years for this book to be released and they won't be disappointed.

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