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A laquered empty box
on 19 September 2004
There are good things about this recent Clive Barker escapade: it is an extremely beautiful object, with rich illustrations (which seem lavish, but are very simple once you look at them closely) and Clive's inimitable abilty to draw bizarre and extraordinary creatures and make them more believable than human ones. However, there are also the usual failings: completely flat human characters that lack motivation and seemingly take otherwordly happenings with a pinch of salt, and a rambling narrative. The books ends as if it needs another three parts; and whilst I appreciate it does have them to come, it really should have had some completion within itself.
Clive is always heralded as a great shapeshifter of the literary world, but I am truly getting a little tired of the continuance of the, "ordinary person, finds doorway into another world - or worlds - and finds themselves to be the saviour of the world - or worlds" theme, as we saw in 'Imagica', 'Weaveworld', 'The Great and Secret Show', 'The Thief of Always', not to mention in subtler ways in 'Cabal' and 'The Hellbound Heart'. I suppose it would frustrate me less if he simply admitted that this previously mined vein of storyline - from Tolkien to C.S Lewis is what motivates his work primarily, instead of continually heralding himself as such an original with diversity in approach and premise with every novel. It's the same old same old, I'm disappointed to say.
I also would have liked to have seen this 'Book of Hours' Actually have something to do with time. Maybe this is something he explores further in the later volumes. And I would have preferred it if the islands actually had more coherent familiarities with the hours they were named after.
That said, the good things about it are the feel and smell of the book (It's like holding one big lush painting) and the finely drawn creatures and landscapes Clive can muster from his illustrious imagination.