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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
It's a strange hybrid. Alice in Wonderland meets The Neverending Story.
Only more visceral.
Take your classic Clive Barker storytelling from say, Weaveworld or The Great and Secret Show. Cut down the length (Nowhere near the length of Imajica), take out any ultra-gorey-barker-touches, adapt slightly for children, add usual colourful and wonderful characters and...
Published on 23 Aug 2004 by Michael Sutherland

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2.0 out of 5 stars Review of Audio Reading by Richard Ferrone
This is a review of the Audio, narrated by Richard Ferrone.
I like audio books, I listen to books most days commuting to and from work.
Unfortunately Mr Ferrones' narration is very flat. He has very little range. Different characters, emotions, emphasis etc seem largely unexplored.
Compare his narration to Stephen Briggs on Terry Pratchett (different types...
Published on 27 Oct 2011 by Auton


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 23 Aug 2004
By 
This review is from: Abarat (Abarat Quartet 1) (Paperback)
It's a strange hybrid. Alice in Wonderland meets The Neverending Story.
Only more visceral.
Take your classic Clive Barker storytelling from say, Weaveworld or The Great and Secret Show. Cut down the length (Nowhere near the length of Imajica), take out any ultra-gorey-barker-touches, adapt slightly for children, add usual colourful and wonderful characters and there you have Abarat. Fundamentally, it feels like a children's book for adults. It's cheery, much less dark and serious than many other of his books, and essentially works very well.
Starting with the premise of a bored heroine in a boring town, who wanders out of the city and helps a many-headed master criminal (albeit a very pleasant and polite one) escape from an evil assassin. From there she discovers the Abarat, where things are far from boring...
It's an excellently written novel, and the first in a small series (the next of which is published in September). Fantastic!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Return to Form from the Maestro, 27 Nov 2002
This review is from: Abarat (Hardcover)
Abarat is firstly, on the surface, a beautiful book. As an object it is an amazing work of art, the heaviness of the pages, the evocative and slightly solvent smell of it, the amazing paintings. Even without reading any of the words this book is wonderful. Barker's illustrations add a great sense of atmosphere and bring some of the weird descriptions that might be glossed over by a careless reader to magnificent life.
In Abarat, Barker revisits his persistant theme of strangely familiar hard-to-reach worlds that he used in Weaveworld and Imagica. Barker has a great sense of the naming of things, evoking in a word the enitre personality of a person place or race. Just like in Imagica it is filled with wonderful fantastic places and people, and the ride through Barker's imagination is once again, brilliant.
Disappointngly, this book concludes nothing, and one is left feeling slightly deflated when the end comes and all the tying-up still seems miles away. Admittedly this is the first book in a series, but we know from the Books Of The Art (the Great and Secret Show, etc.) that Barker is not necessarily going to get around to the next part for a while.
Still, this is truly a return to form for Barker, after a run of forgettable and in some cases unreadable material. A dive back into the glorious sea of the imagination of a genius - and this time, with pictures!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking Imagery, 2 Oct 2003
This review is from: Abarat (Hardcover)
I read this book within three days and Barker has lost nothing of his amazing imagery which he uses to sculpt out of dreams and imagination, new worlds for us to visit.
True it's a book for young adults, but as an adult myself I really enjoyed the story and found John Mischief and his brothers to be one of the most amusing characters to appear within fiction...A person with several heads on his antlers that each have their own characteristics and personalities makes for interesting reading when they are sorting a problem out or are just arguing...
The Abarat itself is a fantastic world to visit and to meet new creations and peoples and not be lost in alot of horror gore and bloodletting is quite refreshing. The paintings within the book are exceptional artwork and it helps those that may not be as visually inclined to see as Barker sees; but he helps them along with a few brushstrokes here and there to guide them on their way so as they don't miss any details within this adventure.
I for one can't wait for the next volume in the Books of Abarat.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The beginning of something wonderful?, 21 April 2003
By A Customer
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This review is from: Abarat (Hardcover)
Before reading this book, the only other Clive Barker book I had read was "Weaveworld" (highly recommended). As I read "Abarat", I was struck by the similarities and the differences between the two books.
"Abarat" is actually classed as a book for young adults and I think it is bacause of this that the horror is significantly different to Barker's books for adults. Barker could be said to have toned down the horror, however there are the usual weird characters which you would expect from a horror / fantasy book. And as usual, some of these are evil and some are not. The characters of this book are perhaps not quite so twisted as some of Barker's others (those in Hellraiser for example).
The idea behind "Abarat" echoes (as a few other reviewers have pointed out) some of Barker's other works. The young heroine of the book, Candy, finds a way into another world; although throughout the book, she feels as though she has been there before. The world she has now become involved in is called the Abarat; it is an archipelago of islands, each one representing a different hour of the day (although this world has 25 hours). This world is ruled by the Prince of Midnight, Christopher Carrion. Once he discovers that Candy is within the Abarat, with a possession he wants, it seems only inevitable that she will fall into his hands. This is a very brief outline of the story. I don't want to give too much away.
As you can expect, Candy makes friends and enemies along the way. Although this book can be read by yoiung adults, there are many layers to this story. For example, Barker tries to explore how good and evil figure when love or desire may also become involved.
I have to agree that Barker's main accomplishment with this book is the creation of Carrion. He is a complex dark character. I also think the artwork adds to this book (it played a big part in me buying the book). I do think this book has suffered in regards to reviews because it is the first of four. This is in a sense an introduction to this new world that Barker has created. If you read this book expecting the story to be completely resolved by the last page, you will be disappointed. Personally, I can't wait to read the others. It should be a colourful ride at least.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful work of unsurpassed imagination, 5 Nov 2005
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Abarat (Hardcover)
No one will ever accuse Clive Barker of having no imagination. As wild as it is, it is just as vivid – and that is what makes Clive Barker such a remarkable writer and illustrator. Abarat may be his wildest creation yet, and he brings this striking world to life in both writing and art, as the book is filled with some 100 color illustrations (reportedly drawn over the course of four years). You won't find any Cenobites here, though, as Abarat is a work of dark fantasy written primarily for a young adult audience – this is not horror. The protagonist, Candy Quackenbush, is a pre-teen girl who dreams of escaping her exceedingly boring hometown (Chickentown, Minnesota), where she finds little happiness at home because of an alcoholic father and a mother who seems quite defeated by life. There's really nothing special about her – not in this world, anyway.
Then Candy meets an extraordinary individual named John Mischief – actually, he's more than an individual because he has nine brothers, all of whom live on the horns of his head. The next thing she knows, Candy is running from a horribly malformed man named Mendelson Shape, hoping to reach a dilapidated lighthouse and light the light. The last thing you would expect to find in the plains of Minnesota is a light house, of course, but it marks the beginning of a story of high strangeness indeed. Candy succeeds in calling the Sea of Izabella, and its waters take her away from her own boring world to the fanciful world of the Abarat. Abarat is an archipelago made up of islands, each of which is a different hour of the day. For example, there's Yebba Dim Day (Eight O'Clock in the Evening), which appears in the form of a gigantic head; Babilonium (Six O'Clock in the Evening), where all sorts of entertainments flourish; Gorgossium, the Island of Midnight, a dark island ruled over by the morbidly dangerous Christopher Carrion; and the most mysterious island of all, Twenty-Fifth Hour where everything that was, is, or shall be can be found (but those who come back leave their sanity behind). It's almost impossible to describe the inhabitants of Abarat, so I won't even attempt to give a general description – each is wholly unique.
Parted from Mischief early on, Candy is forced to find her way largely on her own, although she meets up with a number of unforgettable characters along her way. As a rare visitor from the Hereafter (the regular world), she attracts a lot of attention. Most of it comes from Christopher Carrion, who wants the girl for his own dark purposes – even before he learns she also carries the mysteriously important Key of Efreet. He has magic at his command, but Candy proves an elusive prey – which is not to say that Candy doesn't find herself in perpetual danger. There's something special about her, though, and it's not just her ability to win friends or somehow slip through her enemies' fingers at the last minute. As her stay in Abarat progresses, she begins to feel as if she somehow belongs there, that somehow she might have been there before. This novel is really a tale of self-discovery on Candy's part. Signs indicate that she will have a major role to play in Abarat's future, a future threatened by the dark designs of Christopher Carrion as well as the elaborate plans of entrepreneur Rojo Pixler, who wants to stamp out the magic of the world and coalesce power in the hands of himself and his ubiquitous marketing creation, the Commexo Kid.
Abarat is a wonderful story, but it is Clive Barker's illustrations that really make it something special. The hardcover edition is a truly handsome piece of work, with its glossy white pages and plethora of intriguing color illustrations – I doubt the paperback version can recreate these wonders at all successfully. It's important to note that this is just the first of a four-book series. Abarat is a book of questions, with answers to be filled in later; its ending is really just the beginning of the whole story. Clearly, Barker fans have much to look forward to.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never read Clive Barker? try this, 22 Oct 2005
By 
This review is from: Abarat (Abarat Quartet 1) (Paperback)
This was the first book or Barkers i had ever read... i'd been a big Hellraiser and Bightbreed fan so i was dying to read a book of his... i picked up this one and as soon as i had read the first chapter i was hooked... this book is immense, as stated in a previous review, harry potter will over shadow this, but only due to popularity! Clive Barkers imagination cannot be matched by anyone, let alone J.K.Rowling. Everything in the books of Abarat is new and original, keeping you glued the whole way through... im a casual reader i dont read a book in like a day, usualy a month or two but i finished this in 3 days because i couldnt put it down... i cannot express my love for this book any better than BUY IT NOW! YOU'LL LOVE IT!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Standing on the Shores of Astonishment, 26 Oct 2002
This review is from: Abarat (Hardcover)
Clive Barker has come a long way since the publication of his breakthrough works, The Books of Blood and The Damnation Game - early successes which he consolidated with the emergence of Weaveworld and the film Hellraiser.
Although Abarat is a considerably brighter universe than those occupied by the characters of short stories like 'In the Hills, the Cities' and the celluloid Cenobite Pinhead, it is still recognisably a product of the same imagination. For what signifies Barker's strength as a writer is the blissfully irrational *eruption* of fantastical events into the confines of our everyday existence. The distance between our world and Barker's wonderlands is far slimmer than is normal for cross-dimensional fantasy fiction, and we gain a sense of the reality that we know being little more than a veil pulled over what is *really* going on.
Abarat is no exception, and we're scarcely 20 pages in before we are swept away on a tide of vivid daydreams. One moment we are watching our protagonist, Candy Quackenbush, taking a pounding from her teacher over the quality of her homework; the next we are floating with her on the mystical Sea of Izabella - which she has summoned from the top of a lighthouse oddly stranded in the middle of a Minnesota meadow - as she confronts a group of humanoid amphibians playing cards on the back of a giant turtle.
There is not a great deal of reason to be had in Abarat, but oh, how it rhymes. Everything about it just feels right, as befits its uniquely organic genesis: whereas some writers conceive their plots then populate them with characters, and others produce stories from the actions of characters, Barker has conjured *both* his story *and* his characters from the hundreds of paintings that snowballed from his mind's eye at the start of the creative process - before Abarat even had a name. This is an extraordinary working method and demonstrates the full extent to which myth-making is Barker's lifeblood, his essence.
Once Candy begins her trek around the Islands of the Abarat, each one endowed with its own magical attributes, any notion of plot-logic is replaced with a more natural, emotional resonance and the scale of Barker's creation becomes ever more apparent. The Islands and their surrounds are every bit as detailed as other Barker landscapes like Quiddity from The Great and Secret Show and the Dominions of Imajica, but are far from simple repetitions and easily accessible to the intended youthful readership. In fact, said youthful readership should be *actively encouraged* to access this tremendous book!
It is a crying shame that all four books are not readily available as I am itching to read Number Two. Although I have credited Abarat with a four-star start, Barker could be well on his way to producing a five-star series if he can maintain this high standard. Sticklers for convention will find much in Abarat to quibble with. However, readers who would rather not have their imaginative fiction spoon-fed to them like boiled-down Robert McKee three-act-structure seminars will gorge themselves on Abarat's delights. Roll on the next three!
Oh, and Disney: The film adaptation deserves *at least* the level of seriousness that Peter Jackson brought to The Lord of the Rings. DON'T. SCREW. IT. UP.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barker creates brand new children's classic, 9 Sep 2002
By 
This review is from: Abarat (Hardcover)
This could turn out to be a milestone in children's/young adult's litrature... Barker (previously acclaimed for his gore-filled "Books of Blood" and classic cinematic horror fests such as "Hellraiser" and "Candyman") turns his hand once again to the more fantastic, and delivers a bizarre world that could well be remembered by generations to come...
Clive Barker has succeeded in creating a universe, which although reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Wizard of Oz and (most definately) Alice in Wonderland, manages to bring something new to the table. The story is packed with characters stranger and sometimes darker than we've ever really encountered before. Barker's dark and mischievous edge really lends the fable a suspenseful tone, while his usual magically inspired imagination takes us into a world full of wonder, mystery, magic and danger.
This is a beautiful book, in all respects, richly illustrated in full colour by Clive's own unique paintings. Get the hardback version while you can - not only is it pure joy to hold in your hand, it could well turn out to be worth something in years to come!
A really good, gripping, traditional fantasy tale... with something to drag those of ALL ages along on a truly fantastical journey. Let's just hope that Disney can really do this justice - the rights have already been snapped up in a record breaking deal (More than enough to knock the glasses from a certain smug little school-going wizard's face!)
I'm already looking forward to the next installment in what is already shaping up to be a quartet of stunning and beautiful books...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thank for restoring my faith mr barker, 5 Jan 2003
This review is from: Abarat (Hardcover)
wow. a fantastic return to form for clive barker after the travesty that was coldheart canyon. the world he has created here is a work of genius, apparently there are going to be 3 more in this series, but the potential is there for even more. the heroine is feistiness personified, the villains are great, particulary christopher carrion, the lord of midnight. and the host of other characters are all well rounded and interesting. not to mention the fantastic illustrations which decorate the book throughout. beautiful. i might just forgive him for not writing the galilee sequel yet. this new series is aimed at younger readers, so the gore count is decidedly lower, but none of the sophistication of his best work (imajica, great and secret show etc) has been lost. i'm recommending this book to everyone. read it or weep.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wolverhampton Libraries LGBT Reading Group Review, 2 July 2008
By 
This review is from: Abarat (Abarat Quartet 1) (Paperback)
Candy is an unhappy teenage girl growing up in Chickentown, Minnesota, when, after another bad day at school, she finds her way into another universe with the help of John Mischief and his seven brothers. The adventure that follows has all the strange characters that you'd expect from a magical fantasy novel, as well as the obligatory baddies to boo and hiss at.

The illustrated version shows the imaginative images that provided Barker with his original inspiration, which shies away from Barker's usual gore and horror - perhaps for the benefit of the young adults this book is aimed at.

The Reading Group was divided with this book - it is an imaginative story but some readers felt it needed more depth. "Abarat" is the introductory book from the series, followed by "Days of Magic, Nights of War" which readers must read if they want to know how the story progresses - everyone in the Group was disappointed by the abrupt halt to which this book came.

Several clues are planted in this first book, which presumably have significance in the future. If your committed to reading the whole series, or are unfamiliar with fantasy books, go for it! Barker is a great writer.
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Abarat (Abarat Quartet 1)
Abarat (Abarat Quartet 1) by Clive Barker (Paperback - 2 Aug 2004)
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