37 Down, 15 Left (52 Weeks, 52 Books)

While I pretty much devoured Stephen King in my formative reading years, its pretty strange that this is the first time I’ve read anything by Clive Barker, a contemporary if not equal of King. All the more surprising as The Hellbound Heart features the acupunctured Pinhead, better known as the face of the Hellraiser movie franchise. Horror icon or not, there’s really no indication in the book as to which character is Pinhead, so he’s just really a guy with a hardcore body-piercing on the cover.

In any case, the book is pretty light reading as transdimensional torture tales go, with a meaty amount of flagellation and a sizeable splattering of bloodletting. Frank finds arcane puzzle box, solves it whilst in family mansion, gets sucked into afore-mentioned dimension, numbskull brother and slutty sister-in-law move in, slutty sister-in-law gets contacted by Frank, blood sacrifices start happening, throw in mousy but spunky heroine with crush on numbskull and the circle is complete.

I think Heart could’ve done with a pinch of more humour and characterisation, in lieu of the fact that I was a little let down by the gore factor. Maybe I’m a little desensitized but the descriptions of torture and terror left me wanting. I quite enjoyed the whole (minor spoiler) skinning bit but it was just a tiny peak in this mostly flatline of a novella. Not Clive Barker’s best work, apparently, so I’ll seek out the rest of his stuff before I pass final sentence.

The Hellbound Heart
(ISBN No: 0006470653) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

My next book will be T.C. Boyle’s The Human Fly and Other Stories.

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