Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Great and Secret Show (Book of the Art #1)” as Want to Read:
The Great and Secret Show (Book of the Art #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Great and Secret Show (Book of the Art #1)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  21,112 ratings  ·  441 reviews
In the little town of Palomo Grove, two great armies are amassing; forces shaped from the hearts and souls of America. In this New York Times bestseller, Barker unveils one of the most ambitious imaginative landscapes in modern fiction, creating a new vocabulary for the age-old battle between good and evil. Carrying its readers from the first stirring of consciousness to a ...more
Paperback, 658 pages
Published November 3rd 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published 1989)
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 The Great and Secret Show, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Cosmic Logick Yes. He will never write it.
He will, however, keep telling you how epic it's gonna be.

Other than that...
Yes. He will never write it.
He will, however, keep telling you how epic it's gonna be.

Other than that...
Page down to "The Art 3"(less)
Holger Matthies No, it's only vaguely related. Characters from Hellraiser will meet characters from the Art, and there'll be some light she'd about Clive's cosmology…moreNo, it's only vaguely related. Characters from Hellraiser will meet characters from the Art, and there'll be some light she'd about Clive's cosmology - but the third book remains to be written.(less)
The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen KingSalem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram StokerPet Sematary by Stephen King
Best Horror Novels
74th out of 1,263 books — 3,941 voters
Weaveworld by Clive BarkerThe Great and Secret Show by Clive BarkerImajica by Clive BarkerThe Thief of Always by Clive BarkerEverville by Clive Barker
The Best of Clive Barker
2nd out of 19 books — 138 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This book bordered on a religious revelation to me. I absolutely adore the style it is written in and the subject matter tears at the fabric of your understanding of reality. I questioned what I know in a way that harkens back to Plato's 'The Cave'. Is reality real or is it just shadows on the wall inside something bigger than I can understand?

Clive Barker has a way of making dark and sinister characters intriguing and not nightmare inducing.
To label The Great and Secret Show a horror novel would be to do it a disservice. "Arty horror" would be closer to the mark but that sounds silly and would still be inadequate. “Dark fantasy” sounds good to me though it deemphasizes the horror aspect of it a little too much, may be it is more phantasm than fantasy. Not that labels really matter, a good book is a good book regardless of whatever label you slap on it. I am only going on about it just to have some kind of intro!

To tell you what thi
Adam Light
Even better the second time around. If I could rate it higher, I would. Of course, I believe this is essential reading for horror/dark fantasy fans. I will be revisiting the sequel, Everville, next.
Matt Nielsen
This book is a trip and a half. It is weird and visceral yet I couldn't put it down. The imagery in it is sometimes graphic and downright nasty (there is a scene where one of the main characters is fascinated with a back room sex show in a bar in Mexico where a woman is having sex with a dog... and it describes it in intimate detail) but it keeps your curiosity peaked and keeps you wondering what is going to happen...

Well I finished it last night and I gotta say... wow! This Clive Barker guy has
In an exercise to get in touch with my deceased teenage self, I decided to read one of the books that really got me into reading and, incidentally, writing. Having noted already that as the palate of age matures, the enjoyment of things past lessens, I wanted the familiar nostalgia of a book from my shelf that had my old, perhaps slightly smaller, fingerprints.

The first of an incomplete trilogy, The Great and Secret Show is a novel of fantasy, horror, and sex. I must say that part of me was plea
A gorgeous, sensuous dream of a novel that is, not surprisingly, about the stuff of dreams. Barker's signature wild mix of fantasy, sex and horror is on full display in this apocalyptic story as is his richly evocative prose. I lost myself in this story for hours on end and even ignored my dog's feeding time twice (sorry, Jake!). This is the kind of virtuoso performance I have come to expect from Barker (and what I expected, and didn't get, from The Scarlet Gospels).

I do have to say that I found
Lee Thompson
An epic journey full of beautifully dark events and the characters who shape those events. Barker is such an original. Looking forward to reading the sequel to this before the year is out.
The summer I read this book was the summer I changed my mind about the horror genre. Previously, I had read some subpar Stephen King and some even more subpar Dean Koontz. A friend recommended the Great and Secret Show to me, saying it was like King's The Stand, but better.

I skeptically started the book and was immediately glued to the page. Barker mixes dark fantasy and horror elements comprising a concoction that I've never found in any other book.

The story is near impossible to explain with
Ben Babcock
The Great and Secret Show reminds me of the only Tim Powers novel I’ve read, Last Call . And that, for anyone wanting a one-sentence review (contingent upon understanding the nature of my opinion of Last Call), is that.

In many ways, coming across a book that doesn’t interest one even though it’s a good book makes writing a review far more difficult than coming across a bad book. But if one truly reads widely—and it’s something I take pride in doing—then it will happen. So what then?

I could try
After reading "Everville" I'm fired up again. THAT'S Book II of The Art. A five BTW. This review is being cobbled out, line by line. So many transfogmurations I've lost count. Still kicking it around though. Ok, granted, the final result is slower than waiting for Christmas Day on a leap year, but even that day is finally reached.

I'm also sharing some relevant, revealing quotes given by Clive Barker relating not only to TGASS but to the nature of his general concepts of the dream state, the di
First published in 1989, 'The Great And Secret Show' formed the first book of 'The Art' proposed trilogy. The novel is a complex weave of storylines, woven together to form this impressive and compelling tale of fantasy that sends you into a world with seemingly no limits. The novel not only opens up the reader's own imagination but brings forward suggestive images and ideas that remain with you for years to come. Barker manages to capture your attention from the start and keep you gripped throu ...more
This is one of the best books I have read; it has everything you want to read about - intense gore, weird sex, and awesome characters. A large number of characters appear in the book, but the book is long enough for the reader to get to know each of them. What appears to be a mess of different storylines at first, slowly but eventually weaves together to form a truly impressive tale. When starting the book, it's hard to imagine what kind of story this could possibly be, but stick with it and you ...more
This book was so awesome. It is really intense and suspenseful, I couldn't put it down and ended up reading it in like three days.

The book is about a battle between good and evil, waged over possession of the dream sea called Quiddity which I guess is essentially the collective human subconscious. The battle is between two hyper-evolved humans who can raise their own soldiers from, respectively, the dreams and fears of humans. These soldiers are called terata (fears) and hallucingia (dreams). T
Elizabeth Holloway
I have long considered myself to be a collector of good horror. (in itself a seemingly diametrically opposed descriptor...)

But this book really rips the sheet off of the things we don't dare ever face, let alone think about while accentuating their terrible beauty in muted fascination... managing to engulf you in a very accessible series of fantastical and, at first glance, unrelated sub-plots/events that culminate in more than a few hints at; revolutionary concepts concerning the philosophy and
First of all I'd like to say that I am absolutely fascinated by Clive Barker, his writings and his images. Once I saw a documentary about him, in which his drawings of various monsters were shown, they were awesome. What's more, he said he just saw these images in his mind; he didn't think them up, he just saw them!

After I read Imajica and saw Clive in the flesh when he was visiting the premiere of 'Lord of Illusions' here in Amsterdam, I just knew I would always try to keep track of whatever h
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was one of the worst books I've ever read - very possibly THE worst. I am just amazed by all of the positive feedback on Goodreads. This was my first Clive Barker novel, and it will be my last. I almost stopped reading it too many times to count, but I just hate stopping novels. I want to get through to the end and be able to rate it as a whole (which was absolute torture in this case).

Where to begin? It felt like I was reading a screenplay for some cheesy horror film with a budget of $500
April Cote
I couldn't do. I freaking tried, I really did. It got so many rave reviews so my hopes were high. The beginning was great. The concept really worked, but at part three it was like the book was taken over by another author, a bad one at that. The characters became empty, there was nothing to them. And the supposed scary parts, to me, were B-movie laughable. Not scary or even creepy at all. The dialogue became flat as well as the characters. I had to stop. The thought that after 600 something page ...more
Rob Schumann
Barker at it again... Fantastic story that's almost impossible to describe. The "Art" is being able to rip away the fabric of reality and cross over into a land that is only visited upon birth, death and the moment you fall in love. ....WHAT?!?! What does that even mean???

Somehow Barker puts you into the story and you learn along with the characters and it seems so plausible. One of the most creative books you will ever read.
My rating would be 3 1/2 stars.

There were parts of this book I loved, and I am forever in awe of Clive Barker's imagination. There were also parts of this book that bored me, and after a while I became uninterested in the story. Oddly enough, I can see myself reading this again. Freed from trying to make sense of the mythology, and keeping track of the many main characters, I may enjoy it much more.
Apr 03, 2008 Nicki rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nicki by: Old Sly Boots
Get past the tedium of the first 75 pages to get to one of the greatest epic stories ever written. Cliver Barker's writing is beautiful and the story is so much bigger than I could ever imagine. I am in a complete love affair with this and Everville, its sequel. I wouldn't even know how to classify it. Part horror? Part romance? Part fantasy? But, it all seems like it could be so real...
Newton Nitro
The Great and Secret Show (Book of the Art #1) - Clive Barker | 685 páginas | 1ª Ed. 1989

Um apocalipse no interior da Califórnia pelo mestre do horror Clive Barker. Curti a releitura, tinha muita coisa que eu não me lembrava. O POV narrativo é onisciente, e muitas vezes a narrativa se perde na miríade dos personagens, mas as idéias e os conceitos são muito originais, e a trama é completamente imprevisível. Recomendadíssimo para fãs de horror e sobrenatural moderno! Agora sigo para a leitura de E
11811 (Eleven)
Second read, 20 years later, still 5 stars.
aPriL does feral sometimes
IMHO, I think Mr. Barker forgot archtypes have depths of meaning. Instead, I felt as if I had been slimed, as in the 'Ghostbusters' movie.

Everybody, for those of you who loved this, yes, the writing is the very image of literary writing and definitely covers a lot of the usual metafictional and metaphysical ground customary for an author seeking Truth while having fun, but with horrifically offensive graphic scenery. WAY too long, but the worst of it, for me, though, this was too much of a bad L
Jim Peterson
Although he comes from England, Clive Barker succeeded in writing an epic, dark fantasy novel set in the United States (Neil Gaiman also pulled this off in American Gods). Whereas American authors tend to keep their writing more simple and straight forward (with many exceptions), the Brits tend to write more intricate, lacey sentences and I really love that. Clive Barker is truly an excellent writer of beautiful prose. This is often overlooked due to his being typecast as a horror writer, though ...more
Graham Crawford
A friend urged me to pick up "The Great and Secret Show" after a polite argument over whether Clive Barker or Neil Gaiman writes the best stories about magical worlds intersecting with the mundane. It was perhaps an unfair filter to read Barker through, as I was constantly comparing this book with "The Ocean at the End of the Lane", one of my favorite novellas of recent times. The two works do have a lot in common; they both use ocean metaphors for the ultimate, they both feature characters who ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chilly SavageMelon
I haven't read other Barker, but the voice is really annoying here - so hopelessly "80's". There are decent enough ideas, and some of the characters are flushed out, but they are merely the delivery vehicle for a never ending and chaotic plot. Some of which is more engaging than the rest. The idea of a misanthrope coming upon arcane mysteries at the dead letter post-office appeals to me more than a decades long struggle between good and evil. Skinny dipping teens getting impregnated "Rosemary's ...more
Linda  Branham Greenwell
Randolf Jaffe works in the Dead Letter Office in Omaha, Nebraska where he stumbles across people talking about the Art, which is something that exists in another plane of existence. He learns about Quiddity, which is called a dream sea where people float in their minds when they are born, when they fall in love for the first time and when they die. He wants to find out about this Art, so he leaves to find out more about. This leads to a huge battle between good and evil in a tiny California town ...more
James Parsons
This was the first of what was a suggested trilogy from Barker, now exploring and telling a very creative, inventive fantastical and spiritual while dream-like tale.
Not as truly mind blowing and stunning in scope as his immense Imajica novel, this first part of this tale-which can be read as a single book, is strange, unusual, adventurous and almost unpredictable.
It draws in elements of fantasy, religious tale, spirituality, dream and reality and also at times horror and terror as well written
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Complete Clive Barker's The Great And Secret Show
  • Clive Barker's Night Breed: Genesis
  • Clive Barker's Hellraiser: Collected Best, Vol. 1
  • Shadowland
  • Clive Barker's A - Z of Horror
  • The Transition of H. P. Lovecraft: The Road to Madness
  • Off Season (Dead River, #1)
  • A Choir of Ill Children
  • Summer of Night
  • Usher's Passing
  • The Yattering and Jack
  • Ghost Road Blues (Pine Deep, #1)
  • Daughter of Hounds
  • Necroscope (Necroscope, #1)
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...

Other Books in the Series

Book of the Art (2 books)
  • Everville (Book of the Art #2)
The Hellbound Heart Books of Blood, Volumes One to Three (Books of Blood, #1-3) The Thief of Always Abarat (Abarat, #1) Weaveworld

Share This Book

“Is there any good news?' Tesla said.
Who ever promised that? Who ever said there'd be good news?”
“Beautiful," Grillo said.
"Would Swift approve?"
"Fuck Swift."
"Somebody should have.”
More quotes…