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This fast-paced, action-packed novella served as the basis for Clive Barker's extreme horror movie masterpiece Hellraiser, but it is well worth reading on its own merits. The human heart and its vulnerability to perverse pleasures of a sensuous nature is a compelling theme at the heart of Barker's writing. Those familiar with the movie will find that this original story matches up fairly closely with what they have seen, but there are some important differences. For one, a little more information about the infamous puzzle box is revealed. The characters are fleshed out a little better, yet Julia remains a cold person whose motives are not completely understandable. The Cenobites are actually featured much less here than in the movie, and the physical descriptions of them are far less developed--Pinhead himself reportedly speaks with a girlish voice in the novella. The blood and gore are certainly here, but their full magnitude is determined by the imagination of the reader. Interestingly, Kirsty's relationship with Rory (who was called Larry in the movie) is ambiguous at best. While one assumes Rory is her father, Kirsty always refers to him by name, and her relationship with him, if he is her father, is not a normal one for she seems to relate to him as some sort of potential lover.
The depth of Barker's vision is much better developed in print than on the movie screen, and that is what makes this novella a must-read for fans of extreme horror. The dark side of the human soul is a source tapped deeply by Barker's imagination, and he is unafraid of revealing the depravity of any given individual. As such, his writing betrays a complexity and ingenious subtlety which critics of horror will never identify or understand. Surprisingly, there is really not a great deal of perverse sexuality in this particular work, so readers who tend to shy away from his Books of Blood may actually find The Hellhound Heart to be the optimal doorway by which to enter the haunted, terrifyingly alive world of this modern master of horror.
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on 8 August 2015
Clive Barker is my favourite contemporary horror writer and it was the Hellraiser film (one of my favourite horror films) that introduced me to his work. This is my third time reading the novella that inspired the movies and I enjoyed it as much this time as I did the first time.

There's so many aspects that elevate this into a classic read. First is the eloquence of the author's word craft. Just reading the language is a joy in itself. As a writer myself I can only marvel at the talent displayed and hope that I will one day match such skill. But I was a reader long before I became a writer and this remains a fantastic read.

The film based on this novella is excellent, mostly because of the cenobite characters, demons wrought from the flesh of those foolish enough to attract the attention of the order of the gash. The variety of the suffering visible in their forms works well on screen and the written word. The key difference here is that the book treats them as a collective rather than the simple imposing character of Pinhead as a leader.

The film does a decent job in visualising the horror in this tale, but the book does a far better job in describing the sensual nature of the cenobites. And that for me, beyond the quality of the writing, is what makes the story stand out. Normally the duality in horror is expressed as simple good versus evil, or the bestial against human, but here it's not so simple. The pain and pleasure is entwined, indivisable to coin a phrase.

It's a short read, but no less potent for that. The language is finely wrought and full of experssive dark imagination. A superb read and one that if you are a horror fan should be on your TBR list if you haven't already read it.
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Clive Barker's novella will be better known to the vast majority as 'Hellraiser' as that is the film based on this story. It starts off with Frank Cotton opening a box that is supposed to bring him the ultimate in pleasures, but this doesn't turn out to be what Frank expected. Frank disappears from the house he opened the box in, and next we read that his brother Rory, and his wife are moving in to the home.

As we progress with the story we see that Frank was a hedonist, and after becoming disillusioned with what is on offer he becomes nihilistic. For him he expects orgies and such like from opening the box, but he discovers that after being offered sensory overload in fact pleasure means different things to different people, and thus for him it becomes pain, as he is in the clutches of the Cenobites.

With Rory's and Julia's marriage not going so well Frank thinks he can persuade Julia to help him get back to the normal world, but Rory has a friend, Kirsty, who may be able to put the spanner in the works. This story is only novella length, and thus it doesn't really go into much of the world of the Cenobites, leaving a lot up to the readers' imaginations. What we mainly are given here is the lives of the people in our world, and what happens next. This does on the whole make for a fast and thrilling read, but somehow I have always felt that this could have been fleshed out into a full length novel that would add more suspense and horror. This does make an ideal introduction to Clive Barker's works though, if you have never read one of his books before.
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on 8 March 2014
I had no idea that Hellbound Heart was the same story (albeit a few minor changes) to the acclaimed horror film Hellraiser. I simply read it because I am a big Clive Barker fan. The novella is short but highly effective. Lemarchand's ancient box is not to be tampered with as Frank discovers. The Cenobites are disfigured creatures from another realm (probably Hell), who appear when the puzzle to open the box is figured out.
Rory's blood drips onto the floorboard where Frank's pleasures had been granted before he lost his life and inadvertently gives life to a half-human, half-creature who uses Frank's passionate affair with Frank's wife to get him more blood so he can be whole again.
Brutal, visceral and brilliant, the story sprints to its conclusion. Only a story so imaginative could have been created by the one and only Clive Barker.
Read the book first and then watch the film.
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on 25 November 2010
Being a huge fan of Clive Barkers Books of blood and his screen efforts such as Hellraiser, Cabal/Nightbreed and his screenwriting for Candyman, I'd have to say that The hellbound heart disappointed me a bit. I had hoped for a lot more insight in the Cenobites. You are offered a few hints, and there's a bit more about Franks lust for forbidden pleasures than in the movie, but the last forty pages (or so) of this rather short book (128 pages) is wasted away on a lot of chaising around, and you never really get a satisfying psychological insight in Frank; he's just a mean dude, and the hierachy and motives of the cenobites remains somewhat a mystery. I'd much rather recommend Barkers different volumes og the Books of blood if you are to dive into his early gory period. Hats of to the idea of this book (which of course is brilliant, groundbreaking) that would have probably knocked me off my seat if i'd read it back in the eighties and had'nt seen the movie like a million times.
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on 14 June 2015
Every bit as chilling as I remember and great value. Looking forward to the new release too. The craft of Barker's writing is not the gruesome details he tells you but that he tells you enough for your imagination to do the rest. I want to see Hellraiser again.
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on 27 April 2015
Barker' s tales of the Cenobites thrill, entrance and horrify in equal measure. Reading the novel again 25 years later brings a dress depth to the novel and identification with the characters.

But don't shed any tears, it's a waste of good suffering.
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on 10 August 2014
I've been wanting to read this book for years and years and finally caught up with it on kindle. It is every bit as brutally beautiful and brilliant as I'd hoped it would be. The way Barker writes is the best of the best, beautifully evocative and descriptive, yet not too much that get you bogged down with huge chunks of text with no dialogue. Just perfect.

The book is different from the movie. The characters have different relationships to each other and the plot is slightly altered. But the vibe and atmosphere of the book and the movie are identical. If you like hellraiser, you'll love this. The book has added depth (obviously) which works really well when we're inside Frank's head and what it feels like to be skinned, with no muscles around his vertebrae and all his nerve endings exposed.... Just horrible and I loved it. And the history of the box, and 'other charts' and means to reaching the cenobites is gone into, that a map to hell used to belong to the marquis de sade, and another chart is in the vatican... It adds a depth and richness to the story that is missing in the film medium.

In short, it's amazing. Read it. You won't be disappointed. A masterpiece.
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on 28 June 2015
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I remember the movie Hell raiser from when I was a young girl but I never watched it. I distinctly remember the face on the cover. I expected this to be a little more gory so was pleasantly surprised that it was not. It was interesting idea to a story but does not delve into the concept too deeply. Would I read it again, probably not.
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on 12 October 2012
I didn't realise until I had spent £5 on the kindle version that this book wasn't really a book, but was in fact a novella (a 'long' short story) so I was a little disappointed to finish it so quickly. However, this was my mistake for not reading the small print, so not really the author's fault, although it's a tad expensive for a short experience.

Nevertheless, it's an excellent companion piece to the original film, and as such should be enjoyed by any fan of the Hellraiser mythology.
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