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Sacrament Hardcover – 1 Jul 1996

3.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 447 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins (July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006017949X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394571096
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 16.5 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,148,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

A boy has an encounter with a man who causes extinctions of other species, and as a result grows up to be a man who documents (and thus appeals for a halt to) those extinctions. This dark fantasy tale is unlike most of Clive Barker's work, being more tightly plotted, and more of this world. In a sequence of well-executed stories within stories (comparable to Russian dolls), Barker unfolds a compelling examination of what it means to be human, to be a man and, more specifically, to be a gay man on a planet where ageing, disease and death bring "the passing of things, of days and beasts and men he'd loved." A satisfying long novel packed with vivid images, memorable characters and a melancholy mood that reaches for hope. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘A gripping book that weaves a compulsive spell… vintage Barker’
The Times

‘Barker’s unique brand of eco-mysticism weaves as potent a spell as ever’

‘The premier metaphysicist of contemporary fiction. Breathtaking.’

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Sacrament is easily the least read of Clive Barker’s novels. It has apparently only sold half the usual number of his books, and there is one simple reason for this: the protagonist is gay. In this day and age it is a real pity that readers have been put off by such an unimportant detail, especially when anyone who reads this book will discover that it is without doubt one of Barker’s best (and no, I’m not gay myself).
The story concerns Will Rabjohns, a wildlife photographer who is attacked by a grizzly bear and left in a coma. During months of unconsciousness he goes dreaming of his childhood in Yorkshire, where he met two enigmatic characters, Jacob Steep and Rosa McGee, who have lived for centuries in ignorance of what they are or how they came about, and have strange ideas about what the world is and their role in it. Will re-discovers how Steep shaped his life, and on waking from his coma is drawn back into contact with him again, as Steep goes about his murderous crusade.
This, of course, is just the barest bones of the story. As ever with Barker’s books there is a world of content on these bones: his sharply realised characters, his natural sense of pace, his prose (which has always been so elegant while at the same time never distracting) approaches perfection here, his ability to tell his story with original, unpredictable scenes, and the nuggets of philosophy that his work has always contained. It is in this last capacity that Barker has excelled himself with this novel. The nature of God, existence, life and death are examined with an intelligent, well-considered insight that I have never encountered before in any media anywhere else, including Barker’s own. If that makes the book sound like a tough read, it isn’t at all.
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Format: Paperback
"Sacrament" is the tale of a young boy's apparently chance encounter with two immortals in the Yorkshire Dales, which changes the course of his life forever. As an adult living in San Francisco the encounter has left him with unfinished business (and a spirit guide that I felt held echoes of the bunny from Donnie Darko) to return to, business of epic proportions.

Clive Barker has a unique style and flow to his work, and a beautifuly brave and fertile imagination. This sees him glide well away from the often formulaic outpourings of other writers in his genre. Within the solidly described material worlds of California and Yorkshire, here is a story of humans and immortals, psychic powers, gods and devils and one in which esoteric and occult references abound.

My favourite pieces are the chapters set in Will's childhood. A number of modern writers of horror fantasy write exceptionally well from a youngster's point of view and then often insist on continuing or returning to the plot from a less-flexible adult perspective. This for me is only somewhat the case in "Sacrament".

Whilst Will's sexuality is important for elements of the twisting plot, Barker at times seems unsure what to do with it. The chapters set in the San Francisco gay scene are wearily and sometimes even cheesily romanticised. Though they do contrast - possibly deliberately - to the highly eroticised relationship of the immortal couple. The worst this does though is to give the reader a few extraneous pages and it hardly affects the flow of the book.

In all, an excellent read. I haven't read Clive Barker for a while, and having refreshed myself with "Sacrament" I think it's high time I was seeking him out again ...
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Format: Paperback
Undisputedly one of the best books I've ever read (and I mean all books, not just CB's).
While I am not a huge admirer of Barker's mainstream fiction, and am rather sceptical of the whole horror stratum of literature in general, this is definitely a must read. I'd like to be useful, though, and so I think there's something you should learn outright: If you're in primarily for horror, if you're looking for gore, ripped flesh and other more sickly things; in other words, if you only like concrete colours and not shades, this book isn't for you.
For Sacrament is indeed a book written in shades. Above all, Barker is in my opinion one of the most talented stylists of our age. His narratives, even where they lack action and are simply contemplative, are plainly above praise. The enigmatic Jacob Steep and Rosa McGee who imbued the life of wretched Will Rabjohns with that uneasiness which was later to grow and wreck his sanity are probably among the most extraordinary, nontrivial, and so--on some very deep, rudimentary level--the most frightening characters I've ever encountered in the literature. To reiterate though, this is not the kind of fright you'd expect when you read about someone with a meat-ax about to crack your skull in two.
The book starts with Will Rabjohns, arguably the world's most famous wildlife photographer, trying to talk to a half-mad hermit who tucked himself away in a small northern village, Baltazar, about a mysterious couple he had met earlier in his life--Jacob Steep and Rosa McGee. So, in the first part of the book, we get a glimpse of Will Rabjohns the grown-up. Then, after an assault by a wounded bear, Rabjohns falls into a coma from which he may never recover.
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