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Cabal

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  12,358 ratings  ·  263 reviews
For more than two decades, Clive Barker has twisted the worlds of horrific and surrealistic fiction into a terrifying, transcendent genre all his own. With skillful prose, he enthralls even as he horrifies; with uncanny insight, he disturbs as profoundly as he reveals. Evoking revulsion and admiration, anticipation and dread, Barker's works explore the darkest contradictio ...more
Paperback, 358 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Gallery Books (first published October 1988)
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Aaron I wouldn't start here if you're considering Clive Barker, but that's just me. The earlier collection, The Books of Blood Volumes 1-3 (this is…moreI wouldn't start here if you're considering Clive Barker, but that's just me. The earlier collection, The Books of Blood Volumes 1-3 (this is technically volume 6, but it's the weakest in the series), is probably the best horror fiction Barker ever wrote, though many of his longer novels are also quite good. (less)
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R.
Aug 16, 2010 R. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
A long gestation - bought 2001, completely read...now.

Midian is the Vanishing Point of Reference

"Cabal" is a bloodier The Graveyard Book: hero lives in cemetery among...uh, friends...because normal life is ruined by machinations of psycho-killer; but that isn't enough for the evil doctor. No. Decker (played in the movie by David Cronenberg) has to press the issue...but goodthing for the hero that not everything in and under the cemetery is dead. And there goes the hellraiser, being chased by the
...more
Jean
So much of this book is said in subtext, in the language that the characters speak secretly of themselves and others, that I see a lot of readers having completely missed the point or not even willing to formulate an opinion to take a stab at answering the questions they say the story raised for them and never answered. The heart of the book is Lori, a highly sympathetic and believable female character (Barker's good at that), and the shift from Boone's narrative to hers at first felt jarring, m ...more
Mack Moyer
Cabal by Clive Barker is about blowing your load. Yes, your load. Splooging, busting, cracking a loaf, so to speak, and not being ashamed about it.

There are loads blown in this book. Not a lot of them, mind you. Mr. Barker doesn’t employ a GRRM amount of loads here, but of the two loads blown in this book, one of quite pivotal and the other is probably the strangest facial I’ve ever seen in a work of fiction.

But first the non-sperm parts of Cabal. Our hero Boone is a complete lunatic. He’s afr
...more
Richard Wright
A short novel singing a hymn to perversity. Cabal takes a close look a monsters, and discovers that there is a lot more to them than appearances lead you to believe. At the same time, there's no escaping the fact that they remain... well, monsters. It's a beautifully written story, but one that is too often accorded partialities that I'm not sure are inherent in the text. Minority groups are often quick to relate the metaphor of Midian to themselves, but that can only be done on the most selecti ...more
Suzana Vuksanovic
This book really took me by surprise. Although it is a story that includes much that is supernatural, I found it extraordinarily believable. In fact I found myself wishing that Midian was real. Midian is where the bulk of the action in the book takes place, and can be applied both to the ghost town and the cemetery that lies nearby. Even in it's heyday the town of Midian was a one street town, so the unusual thing about this cemetary is it's hugeness. The inscriptions on the various plots (which ...more
Dreadlocksmile
First published back in 1988, ‘Cabal’ followed the release of the hugely popular novel ‘Weaveworld’. The story turns all our ideas about horror fiction on its head, with Barker’s classic tale of misguided humanity. The tale subtly tackles the conception, misguided judgment and ridicule of views on homosexual community, with the homosexuals represented as the Nightbreed. Hounded, hunted and attacked, merely due to their way of life, the novel takes you into a world of questions and suggested conc ...more
Christina Crooks
Clive Barker's dark Cabal (the movie "Nightbreed" is based on it) is one of his many great tales. I'm almost as impressed by this author's economical writing power and his grasp of human nature as I am with his original stories. This one's a horror love story that begins with a trusted but secretly psychotic psychiatrist convincing the hero he's a murderer. Hunted, the hero seeks a safe haven with the shape-shifting Nightbreed.There's one gorgeously direct sex scene in Cabal that should be read ...more
Ken McKinley
Cabal is a novella by Barker that was the basis for the 1990 movie Nightbreed. It's a tale of a character named Boone who believes that he is a serial killer. During sessions with his therapist, Dr. Decker, he tries to convince Boone that he has to give himself up for the murders he committed. Boone decides that he would rather kill himself than be imprisoned for life. After a botched suicide attempt, he meets a half-crazed man named Narcissus. From him, Boone learns of a refuge for monsters tha ...more
P. Aaron Potter
If you’re not quite ready to get vicariously blood-drenched, but you’d like a taste of the later Barker’s work, try “Cabal.” Like “Hellbound Heart,” it was published after the Books of Blood but is sometimes repackaged as an extension of that series. As a bonus, one of the short stories usually bundled with it is “The Last Illusion,” which served as the basis for the film “Lord of Illusions,” an urban fantasy starring the always excellent Scott Bakula. “Cabal” itself would go on to form the bas ...more
Jack
I'm so interested in the resurrection of Barker's film of 'Cabal' - 1990's 'Nightbreed' - that I thought I would check out the novel before I saw the theatrical cut of the film. I have wanted to read Barker for years, particularly after reading a short story of his in the Vandermeers' 'New Weird' anthology, called "In the Hills, the Cities", that had a breathtakingly visceral and grand MacGuffin.

Now, the assembly of the 'Cabal Cut' from DVD and VHS sources and the ongoing quest to recover the n
...more
Ape
Review I wrote in 2003

This is a horror about ’half dead’ people, who actually turn out to be far less threatening and dangerous than the living, perhaps something to think about. I actually read this a couple of years ago. This is the first and only book I have ever read by Clive Barker and to be honest I was not that impressed. It was not scary and I found the overall plot a bit ridiculous and the main female characters a bit two dimensional, but it would be interesting to see what other people
...more
Jim Peterson
I just love Clive Barker. He may write horror and fantasy, but he writes some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read. I only wish this one were longer.
Althea Ann
This book consists of the novella 'Cabal,' the story which the movie
'Nightbreed' was based on, and four short stories: The Life Of Death, How Spoilers Bleed, Twilight At The Towers & The Last Illusion.
'Cabal' shows Barker at the height of his obsession with grotesque
sensuality. It begins with Boone, a mentally disturbed man who had
recently hoped he had been getting his life together and making a new start. he recently met a girlfriend, Lori, and things had been going well. But now, his psych
...more
The_Mad_Swede
There is something special about Clive Barker's prose. Perhaps in particular his early works like the short fiction in The Books of Blood and The Hellbound Heart, and Cabal is clearly (pardon the pun) of the same breed.

Barker writes with all the stops out and throws his readers into the midst of world both nightmarish and fantastic. A world of gross depravity, yet human in all its monstrosity. Barker gives the monsters and outcasts of his fiction souls, making them perhaps more human than some o
...more
Donovan
This book inspired the movie Nightbreed.
It is an easy read but one that is not recommended to the squeamish as it does have its violent moments.

It is one of Barker's earlier novels and I feel it does show at times. In saying that and knowing how well Barker's work has matured since writing Cabal, I would like to see a sequel written for it.






Plot ***Spoiler***
The story concerns a young man named Boone, who is suffering from an unspecified mental illness. Although it is not serious enough to instit
...more
Alex Telander
The Dark Weaveworld of Clive Barker, Part 3 of 3: “Cabal”

Cabal: The anthology starts off with this novel from Clive Barker. In the remote town of Midian, there is a race of the undead, similar to vampires, and yet different; the sun kills them, they feed on human meat. They also have strange powers, where they can metamorphose into flesh-hungry beats with astounding strength.

The min character, Boone, “thinks” he has committed an uncountable number of murders and goes to Midian, where he feels he
...more
Helen
Rather than a straightforward horror novel, this is a somewhat 'outsider' romantic tale, though there's a fair few gory chunks to enjoy too.
All good fun.
Voitek
After reading Waveworld and Books of Blood I must admit I was a little disappointed with this book.

I loved the idea of the psychotic killer doctor trying to pin his murders on an innocent man. When the Mask came into play everything became even more interesting. The way Decker interacts, talks with the Mask, the way he is under it's power, although short, was intriguing.

The story of Boon started great: a lunatic, being manipulated by his doctor, being convinced that he is a murderous monster. Tr
...more
Jaime Contreras
This was needlessly violent and disturbing. Mr. Barker has lost his way and has succumbed to useless gore and violence as his interpretation of writing horror..
Dustin Steinacker
There's a purity that I like to some of this sort of 80s spec fiction. It feels like this particular way of approaching horror was new enough that the stories are usually pretty pared-down, the story elements pretty direct and the events a little gnarlier in that inherited freaky 70s manner than more recent stuff. I have to think that a lot of this changed when forensics were introduced as much as for any literary reason—it no longer makes as much sense for some fantastical creature or deranged, ...more
Mark R.
****1/2

I read “Cabal” again recently, in preparation for comparing it to the new director’s cut version of Clive Barker’s “Nightbreed.” “Nightbreed” is, of course, the film version of Barker’s short novel. The director’s cut of the movie does indeed follow the original story more closely. Which is nice, because the story lends itself very well to film adaptation. The studio didn’t seem to think so, but ah, what do they know, right?

“Cabal” begins with a man named Boone being addressed by his psyc
...more
Megan
I reread this novella every October if not more frequently. I first found the book in 2004 while studying abroad in London. I found this tiny paperback copy that only held "Cabal", though after it went a miss (a friend borrowed it and never returned it... needless to say I am still cranky over it) I bought the edition I tagged.

Cabal is one of my very favorite horror stories, because the monsters are the heroes. Not a unique idea today, but apparently in the 80's it was. The imagery and langue ch
...more
Brian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aaron
Handily the weakest of the 6-part Books of Blood series, Cabal starts with the titular novella (later filmed as Nightbreed) and tacks on a few of Barker's weaker stories before wrapping up with a novelette that would also be adapted to film, as Lord of Illusions. More than ever, these stories feel largely like undeveloped bits of proper novels. The gore quotient is sufficiently met, as always, but the weak attempts at characterization and plot don't amount to much. The sex in Cabal succeeds in b ...more
Phillip McCollum
I'd never read much horror outside of Stephen King's fictional enclave, so I was interested in seeing what ideas germinated in the mind of another genre giant.

I'd say where King focuses on the psychological scares, Clive Barker digs deeper into the blood and guts arena, though not to the point of just writing horror porn. Barker is a skilled wordsmith with intriguing ideas pulled from historical and religious texts, and his metaphors are oddly poetic.

The story begins with our protagonist Boone,
...more
James Martinez
It is always interesting to go and read the story that inspired a movie that you enjoyed. Ever since the first time I watched the movie Nightbreed I though that I should go read the original novella that was the inspiration for that movie. And as the old saying goes the book/story was even better than the movie since so much more atmosphere and feeling can be put into the written word that just does not easily translate to the screen. The book Cabal is actually a novella and four short stories t ...more
Jesse
For the most part, I really liked this compilation; I've wanted to read the story "Cabal" for years, so this was a long time goal to actually sit down and get to it. However, I didn't like the other stories nearly as much...and to be honest, if I didn't have the cult fascination with"Nightbreed" I may not have been as down with "Cabal as I was".

I felt that Barker often took too long to get around to the point of the story. I've said many times that it is important to develop characters in horror
...more
Thomas Strömquist
This book was even better than I remembered from reading it a long time ago. The protagonist Boone is a very disturbed man and when his psychiatrist shows him picture evidence of his heinous crimes, he is convinced that being the monster he is, he does not have a place among the living no more but that he belongs in the mythical Midian. When he struggled to get there, he finds out that he doesn't belong there either, but he will...

The narrative is dreamlike and paints very clear pictures (making
...more
Vincent Alascia
I've always been meaning to read this and now that I have I am glad. It's a little rough but the story is interesting and moves quite well. I'd like to see a return to this world at some point as the end left a few more questions than I would have liked.
Chantal Noordeloos
Beautifully written. I love this story. My only regret is that I wanted to know more of Midian
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Horror Aficionados : Cabal by Clive Barker 101 92 Jul 23, 2014 08:10AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Author with the same name credited for wrong book 2 17 Nov 12, 2013 12:32AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add expanded edition of a book 3 22 Sep 17, 2013 04:44AM  
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Clive Barker was born in Liverpool, England, the son of Joan Rubie (née Revill), a painter and school welfare officer, and Leonard Barker, a personnel director for an industrial relations firm. Educated at Dovedale Primary School and Quarry Bank High School, he studied English and Philosophy at Liverpool University and his picture now hangs in the entrance hallway to the Philosophy Department. It ...more
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“The sun rose like a stripper, keeping its glory well covered by cloud till it seemed there'd be no show at all.” 55 likes
“Of all the rash and midnight promises made in the name of love, none, Boone now knew, was more certain to be broken than "I'll never leave you.” 14 likes
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