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

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4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  23,373 Ratings  ·  492 Reviews
Clive Barker's bestseller Weaveworld astonished readers with his visionary range, establishing him as a master of fabulist literature. Now, with The Great and Secret Show he rises to new heights. In this unforgettable epic he wields the full power and sweep of his talents. "Succinctly put," says Barker, "it's about Hollywood, sex and Armageddon."

Memory, prophecy and fanta
...more
Hardcover, 550 pages
Published 1989 by Harper & Row
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Popular Answered Questions

Charlotte Buchan He is working on it. Writing has begun but it will take forever!!!!!!! (source - I met him a few years ago).
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)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul Nelson
Jan 04, 2016 Paul Nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books-read
How can I best describe The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker, well if you imagine the start being at one end of a swimming pool, and the swimming pool is filled with jelly (or jello to some) made from a cocktail of your favourite alcoholic spirits and liqueurs.

And to reach the end you've got to wade through this Olympic sized jelly filled swimming pool, right, so chances are you're going to enjoy a fair portion of it before you get full anyway. There's going to be some enjoyment, mixed in w
...more
Apatt
Dec 25, 2015 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Natalie
Feb 07, 2008 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Mar 21, 2008 Matt Nielsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jeff
Feb 06, 2010 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Lee Thompson
Oct 17, 2012 Lee Thompson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Squire
Jun 13, 2015 Squire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Michael Fierce
 description

One of the worst books I've ever read.

Especially when you consider:

1. I've been a huge fan of Clive Barker since the earliest part of his career.

2. I have met and and talked with him briefly on 4 different occasions over the years, thought he was as special a guy as he is a writer, and admit I'd probably give him a slightly more favorable rating because of that.

3. I would easily give everything I've previously read of his a 4 or 5 rating and consider most of his books classics in the genres
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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
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Nick
Feb 11, 2010 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, horror
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
...more
11811 (Eleven)
May 23, 2013 11811 (Eleven) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Second read, 20 years later, still 5 stars.
Dreadlocksmile
Apr 13, 2009 Dreadlocksmile rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Wordsmith
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
...more
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
...more
Matthew
Jan 12, 2016 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, clive-barker, horror
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
Susan
Sep 27, 2013 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Fabian
Jul 18, 2016 Fabian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's easy to measure a reader's enthusiasm with novels like this one: eager and excited, the pages go by fast; on the other hand, when it lags it is extremely...languid. The switching of character's allegiances is a cool trick which Barker has undoubtedly mastered (for no one is entirely good nor entirely evil...as always, its just a matter of selfishness)--also his mythology-making abilities are outstanding. This however, is overdone. I mean, several key characters are spirited away for the las ...more
James Parsons
May 14, 2014 James Parsons rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Kristen
Dec 23, 2012 Kristen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jules
Sep 13, 2014 Jules rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clive Barker is my favourite author, because he's been taking my mind to places I didn't think possible, since I was 10 years old!!! I'd love to re-read many of his books. This is one of my favourite books by him.
George
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
...more
Adam
Feb 14, 2008 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
April Cote
Oct 12, 2014 April Cote rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
...more
Rob Schumann
Jan 31, 2008 Rob Schumann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kirstin
Sep 24, 2014 Kirstin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror-challenge
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.
Nicki
Apr 03, 2008 Nicki rated it it was amazing  ·  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...
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
Coni Warren
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 goes off on an adventure to learn more. This leads to a huge battle between good and evil in a tiny Califo ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Complete Clive Barker's The Great And Secret Show
  • Shadowland
  • Clive Barker's Night Breed: Genesis
  • Clive Barker's A - Z of Horror
  • The Transition of H. P. Lovecraft: The Road to Madness
  • Clive Barker's Hellraiser: Collected Best Volume 1
  • Lovedeath
  • Blue World
  • The Unblemished
  • The Last Aerie
  • The Traveling Vampire Show
  • The Hungry Moon
  • Daughter of Hounds
  • City Infernal (City Infernal, #1)
  • Dweller
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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
More about Clive Barker...

Other Books in the Series

Book of the Art (2 books)
  • Everville (Book of the Art #2)

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