Ren the Unclean's Reviews > The Great and Secret Show

The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker
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's review
Aug 19, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: fantasy
Read from June 15 to July 01, 2010

This book made me realize that I don't think Clive Barker is very good at writing characters. His ideas are amazing (for the most part) but his characters are wooden and one-dimensional and he fails to really develop them at all.

This isn't a problem in Imajica (which I really liked) because the characters are less important in comparison to the world building and fantastical events that are taking place. Barker is more in his element describing fantastic worlds, creatures, and coming up with the rules by which that world functions. I think it also helped that the characters themselves are defined more by how fantastical they are.

Unfortunately, in the Great and Secret Show Barker doesn't have much in the way of fantastic events to fall back on, and he is left with a character centered story. The characters are, for the most part, uninteresting. Everything they do is entirely predictable because it is simply in line with the most obvious of their characterizations. There is nothing more to any of the characters than what is apparent on their first description.

The beginning of this book reminds me of an acid rock guitar solo (not a good thing). I get it. LSD is really mind blowing. But, basing a scientific discovery on one part genius and one part drugs is not interesting to me in the least. This seems like sort of a 70s thing. Are you hip to this plot device, man? It is like Deus Ex Machina for the cool kids. See Vurt for a better example of a book that leans heavily on drug culture.

The middle is setup for the climax (which is itself just a setup for further books) and manages to be dull throughout.

A few things towards the end were interesting. I thought it would pick up when some of the characters end up in Quiddity, a sort of alternate dimension where we go when we dream, but probably 30 pages were spent on this and it was ultimately irrelevant. The descriptions and events in the time loop were pretty cool as was Tesla's ultimate solution to the problem in the book, but the rest I slogged through while being completely uninterested in any of the characters or events as they were taking place.

This book also reminded me of most of Stephen King's writing, fixations on "clever" labels for things, unnecessary sexualization of events, etc... I don't really like Stephen King when he isn't writing Gunslinger.

That is about it.

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