Even More Darkness

Perhaps due to the relative closeness of Halloween, I’ve been writing about a lot of dark books lately.  And this week is no different (I promise, I’ll try to stop soon).  For today’s post, I wanted to write about a book I stumbled across when I was in junior high that has managed to stick with me over the years.  I don’t really recall the circumstances of how it came into my possession, but I remember finishing it in two days.  Clive Barker’s Books of Blood short story collection is one of the best assortments of horror stories I know of, and it definitely forged any notion that I have of what horror fiction ought to be.

There are several volumes of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood, but I’m focusing in particular on volumes one through three (I’ve yet to read the others-but I assure you, I’ll get to them eventually).  From the opening tale, Barker makes you feel a sense of dread that creeps relentlessly through every page of the collection.  Barker’s stories are beautifully written and profoundly disturbing; I’ve recommended his work to friends only to have them get angry with me over just how troubling it can be.  But that’s the inherent beauty of Clive Barker’s writing-he pulls no punches and knows how to craft a story that is equal parts compelling and troubling.

Barker’s writing is so good that you forget you’re reading horror fiction (which is often, to be frank, terrible).  Hearkening back at times to masters like Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, Barker is heavy on macabre lunacy in the forms of demonic visitation and experiences with powerful, unexplainable entities (a la Cthulhu).  He also explores more immediate and personal fears, particularly with a story called Dread (probably my favorite of the collection):  at what point does a human break and descend into a kind of animalistic depravity?  And what does the enjoyment of said depravity say about humanity in general?  Barker explores all of the aforementioned in terrifying ways.

Also, if you ever get a chance, read one of his novels (I’d recommend The Great and Secret Show, even though it is an incredibly complex novel that pushes 1000 pages and deals with the always-relatable subjects of mystical dream seas and the irreversible distortion of reality.  Fret not:  there is a sequel).

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