The Scarlet Gospels Hardcover – 19 May 2015
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"I think Clive Barker is so good that I am literally tongue-tied. He makes the rest of us look like we've been asleep for the past ten years." --Stephen King
"A powerful and fascinating writer with a brilliant imagination... an outstanding storyteller" --JG Ballard
"To call Clive Barker a 'horror novelist' would be like calling the Beatles a 'garage band'... He is the great imaginer of our time. He knows not only our greatest fears, but also what delights us, what turns us on, and what is truly holy in the world. Haunting, bizarre, beautiful." --Quentin Tarantino
About the Author
CLIVE BARKER is a legendary author, filmmaker, and visual artist. His acumen as a horror writer has been praised as some of the most influential to pop culture in recent times. Stephen King hailed Barker as "the future of horror." His Books of Blood series and his novella The Hellbound Heart which inspired the Hellraiser movies have amassed a global cult following and cemented their place in pop culture history. The Scarlet Gospels marks Barker's return to horror fiction.
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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.
The Gospels certainly had ample examples of his linguistic skills, but it was somehow courser than I'd expected; less fluent.
The story itself is fast paced and entertaining with dynamic plotting and Mr B's customary buckets of inventive gore, but there is a crudity about it. Earlier books such as Weaveworld and Cabal are equally violent, but the brilliance of the writing ameliorates any distaste for the subject matter.
I've given it 4 stars because any less would be churlish - saying that Clive Barker can write is like saying Stephen Hawking was quite good at physics - but he can do better than this.
Three star is something I would recommend to others for a bit of light reading, should they struggle for their next read.
Two star is a book that I've finished but would tell people "don't bother."
With this book... don't bother.
It was only just entertaining enough to get me to finish the book. Apart from that, this book was comical, for the wrong reasons, not scary, and... well... disappointing.
One of my main issues was with the character dialogue. People would say or do something in a situation where it just would not happen. E.g. being casually sarcastic to a demon who has you gripped by the neck, while your police partner's head is on fire. Even in the genre of story... not believable.
Demons are cartoonish, same with Pinhead. The description of the horrific and torturous acts that are bestowed upon people are boring and, again, cartoonish.
I guess horror is difficult to pull off when it contains brutal acts of torture, and gore. This doesn't pull it off.
The only thing that kept me reading this book was the promise of visiting Hell, an interesting approach given the reason it's in the book, and that I wanted to see this writer's version of it.
It was not disappointing but neither was it anything new or exciting. There are set pieces and locations, one in particular towards the end, which is grand and bold and beautifully described. A very well thought-out place that I enjoyed. And this particular places occupant and their reason for being there... I liked.
The story would have been better had it not been anything to do with Pinhead. Just make it a new demon, one that the public doesn't have preconceived opinions and views of.
Anyway, I would like to say give it a go, but I won't. There will be better books out there that deal with horror better, gore better and characters better.
In fact, just read the Necroscope series by Brian Lumley. That'll keep you satisfied.