Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cabal” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  13,854 Ratings  ·  313 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 1988)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cabal, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

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)
The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram StokerPet Sematary by Stephen King
Best Horror Novels
96th out of 1,384 books — 4,217 voters
The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen KingThe Stand by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram Stoker
The Definitive Horror Book List
98th out of 967 books — 1,337 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Paul Nelson
Dec 28, 2015 Paul Nelson rated it really liked it
I listened to the audio of Cabal by Clive Barker which comes in at fifteen minutes shy of seven hours and follows the disturbed protagonist Aaron Boone. Boone is a troubled man and is manipulated by his psychiatrist into thinking he's a serial killer. This modern day witch doctor, Decker, doesn't want to kill him with drugs he wants Boone to be his scapegoat.

Through rumour and heresy he finds himself heading for the fabled Midian, where monsters take refugee, hot on his heels is his jilted girlf
Mack Moyer
Jul 18, 2014 Mack Moyer rated it liked it
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
Mar 02, 2012 Jean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 16, 2010 R. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
A long gestation - bought 2001, completely

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
Suzana Vuksanovic
Dec 16, 2010 Suzana Vuksanovic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Richard Wright
Aug 05, 2013 Richard Wright rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
Apr 13, 2009 Dreadlocksmile rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 07, 2015 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
CABAL is a zombie story as only Barker could have written it. Now I need to see the movie...
Leo Robertson
(Okay so for whatever reason this appears as two books and my review didn't appear for this version? Well here it is again :D)

This year, I’ve gotten a stronger understanding of the difference between literary and simple genre fiction- or at least how I would define them.

A literary story needs to provide some unique psychological or philosophical insight or at least present an existing insight in a new way.

Genre fiction provides no new insight: it’s a reshuffling of existing material, often done
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
Mar 27, 2012 P. Aaron Potter rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
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
Oct 24, 2012 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 05, 2011 Ape rated it did not like it
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
Christina Crooks
Jul 29, 2009 Christina Crooks rated it it was amazing
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
Leo Robertson
Apr 01, 2016 Leo Robertson rated it it was ok
This year, I’ve gotten a stronger understanding of the difference between literary and simple genre fiction- or at least how I would define them.

A literary story needs to provide some unique psychological or philosophical insight or at least present an existing insight in a new way.

Genre fiction provides no new insight: it’s a reshuffling of existing material, often done to death, in a unique combination, purely for the purpose of entertaining. There’s endless crap like this on Netflix. Oh, ther
Jim Peterson
Aug 21, 2015 Jim Peterson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
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.
Apr 24, 2016 The_Mad_Swede rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, 2009, barker-clive
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
Feb 02, 2012 Donovan rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, horror
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
Alex Telander
Jan 23, 2011 Alex Telander rated it liked it
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
Sep 08, 2015 Javier rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Por circunstancias tuve que hacer un parón por la mitad y leer a ratos y eso sumado al final, que no me convenció, hizo que me desinflase pero está muy bien escrito y en mi primera parte logró adentrarme en esa atmósfera ochentera fantástica de horror, teniendo pesadillas y todo :-D Hay que visitar Midian...
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.
Sep 14, 2014 Voitek rated it it was ok
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
Jan 17, 2016 Taksya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, audio, _rilettura_
La prima volta che lessi il romanzo non rimasi particolarmente colpita. Era interessante la storia di Midiam e dei Nightbreed, ma nel complesso non trovai cose eccezionali.
Poi, un anno dopo, vidi il film e la sovrapposizione visiva alla storia narrata da Barker raggiunse livelli molto più ampi.
Riascoltando oggi la storia non posso fare a meno di vedere i personaggi con i volti della pellicola, per quanto alcuni siano decisamente diversi e altri non compaiono affatto, e il tutto ha un sapore molt
Jaime Contreras
Apr 24, 2016 Jaime Contreras rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, horror, fantasy
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. He is quite animalistic in the emotional bent of his fictional characters. Honestly, I am not sure he is worth reading anymore. There is a lot of anger here. Skip it unless you are into this type of dreck.
Apr 21, 2016 Anne rated it really liked it
Not bad. This is my first Clive Barker read, and definitely won't be the last.
Dec 19, 2015 Saki-chan rated it liked it
Esto forma parte de un conjunto de reseñas que hice hace tiempo para un blog en el que participaba, las copio y pego más o menos como estaban y les agrego quizás algún comentario extra, tachados, groserías, u otra cosa que no puse desde el principio porque el blog no es mío y la dueña no es una loca como yo.


22 octubre, 2013

Otra novela que tenía en pendientes, había escuchado buenas críticas de ella, cosa muy alarmante dado el
Mark R.
Nov 14, 2014 Mark R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Dec 17, 2015 Megan rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 30, 2014 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 29, 2014 Aaron rated it it was ok
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Horror Aficionados : Cabal by Clive Barker 101 95 Jul 23, 2014 08:10AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Author with the same name credited for wrong book 2 19 Nov 12, 2013 12:32AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add expanded edition of a book 3 22 Sep 17, 2013 04:44AM  
  • Clive Barker's Night Breed: Genesis
  • The Complete Clive Barker's The Great And Secret Show
  • Clive Barker's A - Z of Horror
  • Wormwood: A Collection of Short Stories
  • Blue World
  • Clive Barker's Hellraiser: Collected Best, Vol. 1
  • Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic: The Authorized Biography
  • Book of the Dead
  • The Yattering and Jack
  • Hellbound Hearts
  • Hellraiser: Collected Best II
  • Battle Royale Ultimate Edition Volume 2
  • The Transition of H. P. Lovecraft: The Road to Madness
  • Necroscope (Necroscope, #1)
  • The Hungry Moon
  • Clive Barker : Illustrator
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
More about Clive Barker...

Share This Book

“The sun rose like a stripper, keeping its glory well covered by cloud till it seemed there'd be no show at all.” 61 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.” 18 likes
More quotes…