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on 28 October 2015
The Scarlet Gospels never quite lives up to its expectations. I found it quite disappointing. One of things that makes Barker a great writer is his ability to make the reader uncomfortable and make their flesh crawl – in a good way. He seems to have lost some of this talent with The Scarlet Gospels.

The Scarlet Gospels starts off really well. I thought the prologue with Pinhead destroying the last of the great magicians in bloody horror and torment was excellent. Imagine my horror, when this greatness never makes it to the rest of the book, which at time feels like it could have been written by another writer entirely.

Many chapters in The Scarlet Gospels are set in Hell itself. This offers potential to be great and terrifying. Barker chooses to ignore the potential of this section and play it safe. These chapters were quite dull. Hell is portrayed much the same as any city and doesn’t really come across as a city in the heart of darkness. I really wasn’t impressed. If a writer takes me to hell, I want to tremble with fear, cower and jump at the shadows. This never happens.

Another huge disappointment is the use of the name Pinhead. The character is only known as the lead Cenobite in The Hellbound Heart. Pinhead is a name given by fans and comes across as cartoonish in the novel. I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I was reading a cheesy script for the next Hellraiser film – made on a budget of course.

Barker first announced this book about a decade ago and promised fans many things. All of the mystery of the Cenobites and The Order of the Gash would be revealed. The Lead Cenobite would be given breadth and depth unseen before. Fans were promised an epic tale featuring the history of the Cenobites, Harry D'Amour, the fall of Hell and Pinhead the usurper. We get none of these things.

There are moments in The Scarlet Gospels that shine but these are few and far between and don’t make up for the novel’s overall failure.

The Scarlet Gospels is bland and disappointing and I wouldn’t recommend it.
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on 11 July 2015
This is really difficult to write a review that is quite negative on an author who I rate as one of my all time favourites. Clive Barkers early books left a distinct impression on me and have been read and reread over the years. Like many fans when I heard that The Scarlet Gospels was finally to be released I breathed a sigh of relief, finally I would get to read new Clive Barker material after such a long time waiting. The first disappointment was the number of pages and this is only because the tome we had been promised suddenly seemed to have dissapeared. The next is the story itself, the writing is at times lazy and not indicative of the honey prose that usually graces his stories. The characters are one dimensional and at times the dialogue is so bad it makes me wonder whether Clive Barker was responsible for it or whether a team of amateur ghost writers had been employed to complete it. For anyone new to Clive Barker read Weaveworld or Imajica after The Scarlet Gospels and you will immediately see what I mean. There are little glimpses of past magic but these are often overshadowed by sloppy dialogue, inconsistencies in the storyline and a feeling that this is not Clive Barker but someone else. I will always buy any future releases but The Scarlet Gospels will not be one that is read and reread.
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on 22 June 2015
Very disappointing. Awful, clumsy dialogue more like a teenager attempting to imitate Clive's trademark style than the man himself. The plot is paper thin & ends with an uncharacteristically Hollywood fight scene that'll have you bemoaning the quality of the CGI in your minds eye.

The Hellbound Heart was so disturbing & enthralling because it showed us the seedier side of the supernatural, including the consequences of unbridled lust & hubris. This is an altogether different tale - Pinhead's ambitions so epic as to be completely unrecognisable - and as a result loses all of the appeal generated by the original novella.

The Scarlet Gospels might make for an interesting diversion of you have no passion for the original material, but I'll warn you in advance - regardless of your own history with Pinhead, Clive's new vision of Hell itself is completely devoid of any imagination, intrigue or horror.
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on 29 July 2015
Sorry to say but DNF.
I was really, really looking forward to this, but it just didn't do it for me.
I got to page 100 and still felt quite bored. Maybe some hardcore Barker fans will enjoy it but for me this was a bit of a flop.
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on 3 August 2015
I have a hard time believing Mr Barker actually wrote this book, unbelievably bad.
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The first horror book I’ve read in a long time and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Be warned there are plenty of disturbing scenes involving graphic depictions of violence, but also some engaging storytelling. Clive doesn’t mess around with small fry horror; he brings us instead the return of the evilest of Cenobites in Pinhead, we get to meet the devil himself and we’re treated to a highly descriptive visit to Hell in all its glory. This is a sweeping epic horror story that fascinates and takes you places you are unlikely to forget in a hurry.

The book starts with the prologue in which we find Pinhead seeking the last of Earth’s great magicians after killing the others in order to absorb their knowledge and steal their rare magical items. It’s all part of his quest to take over Hell itself and when he finds the last of them it’s not pretty…

The likeable private investigator Harry D’Amour and his friends are on the side of ‘good’ as they struggle against the dark forces. Harry’s closest associate Norma is blind but has the gift seeing and talking to the recently dead. She provides Harry with their requests and he investigates their final wishes. When she is abducted by Pinhead, Harry and friends go after them into the realms of Hell.

The book is really Pinheads final story where Harry is forced to act as a witness to Pinheads grand plan. There are lots of gruesome scenes, magic, ghosts, demons and monsters to keep the reader amused. The writing is on a grand scale and my favourite moments come in Clive Barkers depiction of Hell, its buildings and inhabitants. If you like horror then I’d suggest this is a must-read and I expect there will be differing views dependant on expectations. I read this book with an open mind and once I got into it found it a highly readable and an utterly fascinating story.
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on 6 October 2015
Truly disappointing. I went from watching the films to devouring the novell and the short stories surrounding the cenobites. This novel has diminished one of hte great characters of modern horror.
As another reviewer has said, it's difficult to believe that this was written by Barker. It ranges from the cliched to the lame to the nonsensical. Even hell has become a deeply confusing place/concept which the writer/s don't seem to understand himself/themselves.
Made it half way through and gave up. Life's too short.
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on 16 August 2015
This reads more like a mean spirited parody of the Hellraiser phenomena than a sequel to the Hellbound Heart. Clearly Barker is not happy with the way popular culture has embraced Pinhead (how many times he makes it clear he hates that name), so he has torn it all down in this basic fantasy quest story with some body-horror. The characters are one dimensional clichés whose fates I couldn't have cared less about.

Anything that was original and interesting from the Hellbound Heart was discarded here for just another Judeo-Christian setting with hell and demons. And his version of hell is so boring and mundane I was waiting for the demons to have a neighbourhood watch meeting and to have a verbal disagreement about the appropriate time to put out their rubbish bins.

Finally, there is no consistency to anything in the story. Everything seems to be driven by the plot. One minute demons can be killed by simple physical violence, the next minute they can have their flesh and muscle stripped away without batting an eyelid. It's just not thought through. Very disappointing book, though in all honesty it wasn't difficult to read.
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on 18 July 2015
Very disappointing. A shadow of his previous work and writings. Very patchwork- some paragraphs read like classic Clive barker but then whole pages do not. Sorry Clive!
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on 5 February 2016
In 2010, Clive Barker said that The Scarlet Gospels was 230,000 words long.
Finally published, the book is less than half that length.
The mammoth editing job was undertaken not by Clive Barker, but by Mark Miller, a writer of comics.
The book's dedication says 'To Mark, without whom this book would not exist' and Miller himself has stated that 'Clive asked me to help him finish The Scarlet Gospels'.
As others have noted, much of Scarlet Gospels simply doesn't read like Barker's work.
Which makes me wonder if Mark Miller did more than simply edit the book.
Given the perfunctory descriptions and, especially, the cartoon dialogue, I wonder if Miller actually wrote a lot of the final version of the book.
As someone who first read Clive Barker in 1985 and had been looking forward to The Scarlet Gospels for many years, I have to say that the end result simply wasn't worth the wait.
Very disappointing.
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