34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and twisted fiction - a must read for any horror fan
Back in 1984, Clive Barker made his name within the deeply competitive world of horror with the publication of the first three volumes of the macabre short stories `The Books Of Blood'. Written in his spare time, he admits that he was not expecting them to sell really at all, let alone predict the public response that followed. The release exploded within the horror...
Published on 6 Jan. 2007 by Chris Hall
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great short stories TERRIBLE KINDLE EDITION
This version of the book has clearly not been proof read and becomes increasingly scattered with non-sensical words. I assume that this electronic version is a scan of the original document that has had character recognition software run through it, spell checked and put out immediately for sale without being proof read. (there is a tradition of the early Clive Barker...
Published 22 months ago by Toby le Rhone
Most Helpful First | Newest First
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and twisted fiction - a must read for any horror fan,
Back in 1984, Clive Barker made his name within the deeply competitive world of horror with the publication of the first three volumes of the macabre short stories `The Books Of Blood'. Written in his spare time, he admits that he was not expecting them to sell really at all, let alone predict the public response that followed. The release exploded within the horror literature genre, hailing Barker as an exciting and imaginative newcomer. Stephen King, already known as a master in the genre, went as far as to pronounce Clive to be "the future of horror". The books won both the British and World Fantasy Awards, as the public lapped up the gore soaked pages. After this initial success, Barker followed with a final three volumes, creating a collective masterpiece of horror. His two omnibus's were later to be broken down, to be sold as individual books which Barker was invited to be able to illustrate the covers for with his dark and twisted artwork. The books have since been put back together again into these two large collections.
The books were moderately successful in Great Britain, but found wide critical acclaim in the United States. Their popularity and the sheer amount of sales have found the books repeatedly reprinted and available in over a dozen languages. These books are a must-read for anyone who enjoys reading books from the horror genre. They are also an important stage within the work of Clive Barker forming a solid point for his writing to work from.
Here we have the first three volumes from the collection of six. Released in their individual forms back in 1985, this omnibus was later reprinted by Warner Books in 1994. The book was printed with different cover artwork (done by Bob Warner) and is the current version on sale of this dark and twisted masterpiece. This first collection contains the following short stories:
The Book Of Blood - 12 pages
"The dead have their highway. They carve their stories on the walls and the flesh. Everybody is a book of blood; Wherever we're opened, we're red". This first opener (pardon the pun), brings you a well-constructed and haunting tale to bring together all of the short stories and introduce the reader to the books of blood. It forms a small taste of what is to come, whetting the appetite for Barker's tales of the macabre.
The Midnight Meat Train - 25 pages
"A stomach-churning ride on the New York subway, to feed the Old Gods on human meat". This short was inspired and created around a sultry summer visit to New York in which Barker found himself lost on a subway at midnight. The tale is a bitter and twisted one, as we are treated to Barker's dark imagination and talent for setting down a vivid and disturbing tale. The story is quickly dropped into a festering pit of gore, with extreme mutilation and blood-spill dripping from each page. The tale concludes with a haunting ending, as we are treated to nothing less than pure Barker genius. The story was later adapted in 1990 into the graphic novel `Tapping The Vein - Book 3' where it was illustrated by Denys Cowan and Michael Davis..
- The Yattering And Jack - 20 pages
"Man versus Demon, in a black comedy of lunatic violence". Here we have a short that unfolds a comical tale that will amuse and entertain. The storyline is simple yet packed with purpose. The twist ending is subtle and forms a nice little conclusion to the story. The story was later adapted by Steve Niles in 1991 into the Eclipse Books graphic novel `The Yattering And Jack' where it was illustrated by John Bolton. The story was also adapted for the 1986 release of `The Tales From The Darkside - Volume 5' which was a 20 minute film made for TV broadcast. It starred Tony Carbone (The Pit And The Pendulum) as was available from Worldvision Home Video.
- Pig Blood Blues - 29 pages
"They told Redman the pig was possessed, but he didn't believe...until the nightmare came trotting after him". Barker offers up a disturbing and haunting tale of possession and dark corruption. The story bleeds paranoia as it slowly winds itself to the horrific conclusion, building up with heart-racing tension. This is one of those stories that will come back to haunt you time and time again. The story was later adapted in 1989 into the graphic novel `Tapping The Vein - Book 1' where it was illustrated by Scott Hampton.
- Sex, Death And Starshine - 36 pages
"The show must go on. Even if the audience has just risen from the dead". This gripping story brings you a well-written tale that works upon an underlying suspense that gnaws at you from the inside. The story spirals to an awesome and dramatic twist, which will leave you dying to read more.
- In The Hills, The Cities - 27 pages
"There are monsters nobody has ever dared imagine before; vast enough to take your breath away. And they're waiting in the hills". Barker's imagination runs wild here as we are confronted with this terrifying and impressive tale. Vividly described and cleverly constructed, this story will impress and amaze you with Barker's creation of the darkly fantastic. This short will leave you truly shocked. One of my personal favourite from the whole collection. The story was later adapted in 1989 into the graphic novel `Tapping The Vein - Book 2' where it was illustrated by John Bolton.
Dread - 34 pages
"One man's obsession with fear drives his victims one step beyond sanity, to unspeakable slaughter". A nasty little opening story for this second volume. Here we have a tale of fear and desperation, as the story revolves around the psychological state of its principal characters. The short is well-written, forming a vivid scenario of utter fear and dread as the horrors mount to a dramatic conclusion. The story was later adapted by Fred Burke in 1992 into the Eclipse Books graphic novel `Dread' where it was illustrated by Dan Brerton.
Hell's Event - 23 pages
"The race is on. And the Devil will take the hindmost". A gripping and enjoyable story that keeps you entertained throughout. The pace never slows down as you race through this fiendishly dark and twisted storyline. The story was later adapted in 1990 into the graphic novel `Tapping The Vein - Book 4' where it was illustrated by Steven E. Johnson, Alan Okamoto and Jim Perason.
Jacqueline Ess: Her Will And Testament - 33 pages
"A story of sex and power, and the bloodbath that awaits us at the limits of desire". This story holds a little glimpse of the Barker that will unfold in the later years, with his outstanding imagination for redefining the properties of the flesh. This is an erotic story that decays into something bizarre and twisted as Barker delves deeper into his imagination. One of my personal favourites.
The Skins Of The Fathers - 32 pages
"Once, they had fattened a human child, these monsters from beneath the desert. Now they want him back". This short is packed with suspension and mystery as we are carefully taken on a haunting trip into this dark offering of horror. The storyline spirals to a dramatic ending with eerie reminders of ideas used within `Lord Of Illusions' and maybe even `Cabal' / `Nightbreed'. A gripping and enjoyable read. The story was later adapted in 1989 into the graphic novel `Tapping The Vein - Book 2' where it was illustrated by Klaus Janson.
New Murders In The Rue Morgue - 27 pages
"History is about to repeat itself in Poe's notorious street, as old horrors return to shed new blood". Centred around the principal idea that Edgar Allan Poe's classic story The Murders in the Rue Morgue is actually the work of fact not fiction. This weird and horrific story, sets out a mysterious and compelling storyline as we are treated to some classic Barker horror. The story was later adapted by Steve Niles in 1993 into the Eclipse Books graphic novel `The Life Of Death' where it was illustrated by Hector Gomez.
Son Of Celluloid - 35 pages
"When an escaped convict commits murder and finds his way to a decaying movie palace, he cannot know that his own life is about to end, while the dreams of a half-decade's moviegoers are just beginning. For this convict's cancerous tumor refuses to die, and the angels of the cinema can grant mirages and nightmares of their own." Inspired by the beaten up revival cinema Barker frequented many times back in Liverpool, in which so many films fuelled his imagination as a young man. The short is a heavy dousing of pure horror, with a fast-paced storyline and underlying tension that mounts throughout. The story was later adapted by Steve Niles in 1991 into the Eclipse Books graphic novel `Son Of Celluloid' where it was illustrated by Les Edwards.
Rawhead Rex - 47 pages
"Rawhead it was called because its head was huge and raw like meat. It was the last of a line of kings dating from before civilization, before Christ, when England was forest all over and the home of unspeakable horror. The ultimate monster is on the loose, with a hunger that won't be satisfied this side of Hell". Adapted into a movie back in 1987, Barker was highly dissatisfied with it and so went on to take up the directors chair himself with his own adaptation of the story `The Hellbound Heart' which became the cult movie `Hellraiser'. The short story `Rawhead Rex' is an incredibly violent and gore-filled offering, with this ungodly creature on a complete rampage. The ending is deep within the weird and supernatural world in which Barker will later submerge himself. A highly enjoyable tale of horror. The story was later adapted by Steve Niles in 1993 into the Eclipse Books graphic novel `Rawhead Rex' where it was illustrated by Lionel Talaro.
Confession Of A (Pornographer's) Shroud - 32 pages
"When the Porn Kings tortured Ronnie Glass to death they didn't believe in Resurrection. They do now". A nasty little tale of revenge and evil torment. The story is gripping and rammed with suspense from the start. It's well-written and powerful with its vivid and, in places, horrific depictions.
Scapegoats - 25 pages
"Four lost people on a lost island, with the dead calling from the sea". Written from the first-person perspective of a young woman, Scapegoats boasts a tale of underlying horror and ritual slaughter. It depicts a vivid tension in the air that will put you not at ease throughout. The tale is dark and bizarre, with a horrific and evil conclusion which is a little unsettling, leaving you wondering the taunting world of Barker's creation. Another one of my favourites from the Books Of Blood series. The story was later adapted in 1990 into the graphic novel `Tapping The Vein - Book 3' where it was illustrated by Bo Hampton.
Human Remains - 42 pages
"Gavin was a whore, happy to sell his body for hard cash. Until he met the creature that wanted to own his flesh forever". A typical Barker style of offering here, with the corruption of the nature of the flesh. The story includes brutal violence in places with splatters of gore and bloodshed. The short is perverse and darkly erotic in places with sudden bursts of the horrific. Pure genius. The story was later adapted in 1989 into the graphic novel `Tapping The Vein - Book 1' where it was illustrated by P. Craig Russel.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explore in the dark all alone...,
The Books of Blood are a tremendous tour de force by Clive Barker. At the time that I first read some of them, (when I was about 17), they seemed to be of a much higher standard of insight than anything that I had until then read. Some of the best stories in this three book volume are Rawhead Rex, Dread, and Hell's Event. I read Rawhead Rex in the summer, one summer, and it really took me to another place. The atmosphere that this story of Barker's built up in my imagination whilst I sat there on a summer afternoon in southern England was one of the best reading moments of my life hitherto I think. The sheer mercilessness of the story makes it quite a terrible read [in a very good way], and I re-read a particular section several times, where a woman sees Rawhead Rex dispatch her husband as if he were a bag of flour, and then realises that the monster saw her. The feeling of nauseating fear that runs through the character made tears form in my eyes; like staring into freezing cold winds, and my heart sank. I don't know the words verbatim, but they are something like: "...then the beast saw her: oh god, he had looked right into her eyes, and now he was loping across the yard". Another brilliant story in this collection is Hell's Event, which has some of the best imagination inducing writing that I have read from Barker. Dread - the other story that I noted from this collection - is a very strong short story with a deeply dark and ironic ending which I couldn't forget for some time. I suppose that I have some bias towards Clive Barker because he was the first great writer that I ever read the work of. I think that Barker may have been the reason that I got into reading when I did, even if late teens seems like a late time to start reading for leisure in any quantity. I have been reading stories from these volumes more recently and have consistently been impressed afresh by Barker's insight in these books. Barker studied English and Philsophy at university and the philosophy has made him more than the average horror writer, and capable of seeing more clearly and deeply those terrors that induce sinking awe and wonder in us most. Barker owns that these stories are dark, and that there is not necessarily any light at the end of the tunnels. They are like tunnels in the catacombs of a disused fort, each with their own ghosts and horrors waiting in the dark for any stray reader.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect introduction to the dark genius of Clive Barker,
Clive Barker did not want his Books of Blood broken up into individual volumes when they were published, yet that is what happened. Now, the first three volumes are available in one book, serving as the perfect introduction to Barker's unique style of horror. There are some really groundbreaking stories included here, alongside of a dud or two from Volume Two, but each and every story exhibits the genius and originality of its author's dark vision.
The initial offering, The Book of Blood, stands out as a unique ghost story, but it also serves as a provocative abstract for everything Barker sought to accomplish with these stories. After this enticing introductory tale, we head below the streets of New York to sneak a ride on The Midnight Meat Train. This story is vintage Clive Barker, full of blood and gore. Barker isn't trying to drown the reader in blood as a means to hide any lack of skill on his part, though, because the skill is undeniably there for all to see. In The Yattering and Jack, a dark comedy farce, a poor demon does everything he can think of to make the unshakeable Jack miserable, driving himself almost mad in the process. I think of The Yattering and Jack as an amusing sort of Barker bedtime story. Pig Blood Blues forces the casual reader to once again don hip hugger boots for a trek into gore and depravity. At a certain school for wayward boys, the other white meat is not pork. Sex, Death and Starshine is a good story, touching upon the needs of the dead to be entertained every once in a while, but it lacks a certain oomph.
Dread is a somewhat sadistic tale of one man's obsession with death. His is a hands-on endeavor, as he seeks to look the beast directly in the eye by studying the effects of dread and the realization of imminent death in the eyes of his fellow man. Dread is a psychologically disturbing read, one which succeeds quite well indeed in spite of a rather pat ending. Hell's Event tells the story of a charity race, only this particular contest pits a minion of the underworld against human runners, with the control of the very government hinging upon the outcome. Next up is Jacqueline Ess: Her Last Will and Testament, a disappointing story in which the main character's special abilities to control the things and people around her wind up wasted. The Skins of the Fathers is not a bad story, but it is quite weird. A sometimes almost comical group of inhuman, bizarre creatures comes to a small desert town to reclaim one of their own, born five years earlier to a human mother. A puffed up sheriff and belligerent posse of townsfolk lend comic relief as much as tension to the story's plot of borderline absurdity.
I love the unusual premise and the surreal quality of Son of Celluloid. The back wall behind the screen of an old movie theatre has seen so many famous lives projected upon it that the essence of those screen legends has germinated within it. The only thing needed to bring the screen personalities to life is a catalyst, which comes in the form of a dying criminal. The man himself is of no consequence, but he has within him a force possessing a single-minded drive to grow and thrive. Next up is Rawhead Rex, one of Barker's more violent stories. There are creatures that thrived on earth long before man helped force them to the brink of extinction, and things get pretty gruesome when one fellow unknowingly unseals the prison in which such a monster has been sealed for eons. Murder of a more human kind rests at the heart of Confessions of a (Pornographer's) Shroud. This tale doesn't succeed completely in my estimation, and some might even find it oddly laughable, as the main character is an amorphous blob of a dead man's essence who reconstitutes the form of his human body in a death shroud. Scape-Goats is a little island of death story, the most interesting aspect of which is its viewpoint; it is not often that Barker tells a tale from the first-person perspective of a woman. The final story, Human Remains, offers Barker's typically unusual slant on the old doppelganger motif.
I have saved the worst and best of the collected stories for special mention. New Murders in the Rue Morgue is by far the worst short story Barker has ever written. We are led to believe Poe's classic story The Murders in the Rue Morgue was based on fact, and now the modern representative of the Dupin blood finds himself mired in an extraordinary, eerily similar, and exceedingly ludicrous case of his own. On the flip side, the most impressive story told in these pages is In the Hills, the Cities. Two male lovers touring the hidden sights of Yugoslavia become the reluctant witnesses to a sight few men could ever even conceive of when a unique traditional battle between the citizens of two adjacent towns takes an unexpected and ever-so-destructive turn. If you want to know what the big deal about Clive Barker is, this is the story you need to read. Books of Blood immediately established Barker as a giant in the genre and should be required reading for all fans of extreme and intellectually challenging horror.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great short stories TERRIBLE KINDLE EDITION,
This review is from: Books of Blood Omnibus 1 (Kindle Edition)
This version of the book has clearly not been proof read and becomes increasingly scattered with non-sensical words. I assume that this electronic version is a scan of the original document that has had character recognition software run through it, spell checked and put out immediately for sale without being proof read. (there is a tradition of the early Clive Barker short stories being re-released in shocking rip-off format) The stories are mostly good (however not nearly as good as his later novels) but for the price the confusing mis-types are grating - several per page in some sections. Buy the paperback.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive debut,
This omnibus collects together the first three volumes of Barkers' Books of Blood, comprising a total of 16 short stories:
'The Book Of Blood' is a rather basic opening tale concerning a fake psychic experiment, but ultimately this is less a tale in it's own right and more a framing device for the stories that follow. 'The Midnight Meat Train' follows the exploits of a murderer on the New York subway and transforms the standard serial killer story into a much more mythic fantasy. 'The Yattering and Jack' is an almost light-hearted tale of a battle of wits between a demon and the man he is haunting. 'Pig Blood Blues' has on the face of it a risible premise, with borstal children worshipping a possessed pig, but somehow Barker manages to turn this into a bizarrely affecting nightmare. 'Sex, Death and Starshine' concerns a dying theatre being taken over by the ghosts of long-dead actors for a final performance, and 'In the Hills, The Cities' is effectively The Wicker Man taken to insane extremes, as a pair of travellers encounter the bizarre practices of an isolated rural country that involve the inhabitants fighting each other in huge human effigies.
'Dread' is a tale of psychological horror, as a sadistic student experiments on his colleagues to uncover the true nature of fear. 'Hell's Event' is another tale of a dual between the forces of humanity and hell, this time played out in a London road race. 'Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament' is a moving tale of a woman with frightening telekinetic powers. 'The Skins of the Fathers' finds desert demons at war with humanity while 'New Murders in the Rue Morgue' is a direct sequel to the Poe classic, only with a bizarre sexual twist to the proceedings.
'Son Of Celluloid' examines the power of Hollywood as a movie from hell comes to life. 'Rawhead Rex' is a fairly standard B-Movie horror tale of the uncovering of a long buried monster that goes on to wreak havoc on a small town. In 'Confessions of a (Pornographers) Shroud' Barker manages to take the most worn-out horror cliché ever - the ghost as a flapping white sheet - and construct a solid ghost story around it. 'Scape Goats' has a 70's cinema vibe to it as a group of teenagers come unstuck on an island of zombies, while 'Human Remains' finds a male prostitute being taken over by a demonic double.
All in all these short stories represent a staggering debut from Barker: the vast majority of them feature inventive new ideas and even those that are more familiar are enlivened by Barkers beautiful prose. With not a single poor story amongst them (probably my least favourite was the derivative 'Rawhead Rex', which is still a reasonable bit of hokum) and plenty of classics this is an essential collection for horror fans.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best collections of horror I've ever seen,
Barker is a revelation. Pure and simple, his writing here shines with humour, bloodlust, imagination and terror. Some of the stories will make you laugh out loud, others will give you a sickening feeling at the horror within. "In the Hills, in the Cities" stands out as the most original horror story I've ever seen, "Midnight Meatrain" as the ultimate urban horror and "New murders at the Rue Morgue" is a loving and brilliant tribute to Poe. Well worth a look to anyone who enjoys "in your face" horror, truly fantastic imagination and well written short stories. Any of these short stories would beat the entire Steven King set hands down.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barkers first book ever published.,
By A Customer
These books were first published way back in 1984, before Barker was a name and before he even had got his technique down to a tee. Before this he was a starving artist, selling off his sculptures and writing plays. His luck turned around when a publishing agent read some of the stories and asked for more. He would write plays in the day and stories at night. The books were first published in a omnibus of 1-3 and then 4-6. They were a publishing phenonoem, and as even Mark Gatiss of TV's 'the League of Gentlemen' points out, even if you don't like any of Barkers subsquent work, you are bound to enjoy at least a few of the stories here. This is the best of the omnibus, compromising of fourteen stories set out over the whole book. Ramsey Campbell gives a breif intorduction to try to 'sell' us to Barker and best prepare us for what we are about to read. He outlines his favourite stories, tells us how wonderful Barker is, and then we are off. There is a very short story at the beginning telling us that the stories we are about to read are the writings of the dead. The first story and my faviourite out of the whole collection is 'Murder on the Midnight Meat Train'. It has excellent cimematic quailties, and the only reason it hasn't been made into a film yet is because it is just to daring. Detailing the rampage of a serial killer on the subways, the reader is sucked into the horror when we become trapped on the train with the killer. One of the best short stories I have ver read. The rest are a mixed bag, far to many to talk about here, at least one story from every book has been made into a film of some sort. 'Rawhead Rex', for example. Just about all are set in England and, like Weaveworld and Imajica, it makes you want to be here, and brings the stories to life. Some are funny, some exceddingly nasty, others curious, one or two boring. Still, before Barker went AWOL in America and married a MAN, he wrote brilliantly and here shows the seeds of what would eventually lead to his late eighties peak with 'Hellraiser'. On a final note, read 'the Yattering and Jack' for a suprisingly old-fashioned tale sprinkled in with modern voilence and you have here the modern equilent of Edgar Allan Poe. These stories are so good that Barker has got away without writing any new ones right up until this day. A gem which is just waiting to be re-discovered by literate travellers. Buy it now and your life will never be the same again - new horros will appear down allyways, new wonders will be hiding in your house. A masterpiece of imagination and writing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Joyfully Weird,
To be brief- the first few entries of this book suck you into its general brilliance.
What I personally enjoyed doing was diving in and out. The stories vary greatly with some perhaps not being quite what you wanted or expected.
Nevertheless, if you stick with it you will time and time again come across awesomely dark and sometimes disturbing tales which you'll find yourself creepily smiling to.
5.0 out of 5 stars present,
this Clive Barker book was a present for my daughter and she loved it and wanted the next book too.
5.0 out of 5 stars Where Are The Rest,
This review is from: Books of Blood Omnibus 1 (Kindle Edition)
I love the series but where is volume 2. Fans of the weird and wonderful will have an overdose with this excellent collection with a few famous tales and a few not so well known but I was a little disappointed as, over time, the second volume is still to appear on kindle and I wait anxiously for this to be done.
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Books of Blood Omnibus 1 by Clive Barker