Chris's Reviews > Mister B. Gone

Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker
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's review
Jun 30, 08

bookshelves: horror, humor
Read in June, 2008

The very first three words of this story are enough to tell you that you're in trouble: "Burn this book."

For a bibliophile like myself, to even consider such a thing is a sin. But there it is, in black and white. "Burn this book." And it's only just beginning. For page after page, the narrator of the book exhorts you to burn it. It tries to shake your faith, promising that you're not prepared for what you're going to read. It tries to tempt you with a house that angels would envy, if only you'd put flame to paper. It tries to scare you, letting you know that the final page you turn will also be the end of your life.

The book doesn't want to be read - it wants to be burned. Only that way will the demon trapped inside the book be free.

In between begging you to go get a match, the demon with whom you are speaking, named Jakabok Botch, tells you the tragic, painful and downright ugly tale of how he went from his broken home in the ninth circle of Hell to the pages of the book in your hands. It is a story of blood and pain and betrayal, all culminating in the discovery of a machine that would change humanity forever, and the realization of a Secret so important that it must be rendered with a capital letter.

This is a very quick read, and rather enjoyable. If you like demons and things like that. I finished it while riding the train to and from the Navel of Japan (Nishiwaki); it's a six hour round trip, if you're wondering how much time to devote to the book. Barker has tried something that's not exactly new, but still fun - the idea that the book is talking directly to you, reacting to your reading it. It cajoles, promises and threatens, and tells a gruesome story in between. The narrator is interesting, certainly, but not quite as scary as I'd hoped. Maybe it was my fault, though - it's hard to really imagine the razor sharp claws of an inhuman spawn of Hell scraping at the back of your neck when you've been on a train all day.

Another reason might be that, while Mister B. tries to keep his ultimate fate a secret, it doesn't take a genius to know that he's trapped in the book. His threats, therefore, are empty and lose pretty much any power to frighten. I wish Barker had chosen a more subtle way of trying to scare the hells out of us, but what's done is done. It's an enjoyable read.
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