Milan's Reviews > Books of Blood: Volumes 4-6

Books of Blood by Clive Barker
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's review
Jan 24, 12

bookshelves: horror, short-stories, owned-books
Read from December 25, 2011 to January 24, 2012

I'm a little unsure why it took me almost a month to complete what would normally take me at most a week, but I believe there are multiple reasons why volumes four through six of the "Books of Blood" did not go down well for me at all -- and these reasons all more or less equally contributed to the fact that I DID NOT ENJOY THIS.

1) Barker's language is so exquisite and fabulous that I couldn't help but begin suspecting he had a Thesaurus open on his writing desk and actively perused it every few words in order to make his writing sound more exquisite and fabulous. The fact that I was unable to isolate any one example during my brief perusal of its pages just now does nothing to assuage (see, I can do it too) my sentiment that something about his highly pretentious language felt a little... off. Another thing: Barker apparently loves to throw in pretentious French terms like faux pas, mêlée and façade, even italicizing them for proper effect -- which in itself is not at all a bad thing, but if such terms crop up on every second page (and even then in mangled forms like "faade" -- Barker really needed a better editor) it really just reeks of pretentiousness.

2) The content of these stories is, in my opinion, unbelievably juvenile and pointless, not to mention in complete dissonance with its oh-so-fancy manner of portrayal. There's a lot of violence, guts and death and also quite a lot of sex, but very little of any real substance or importance, giving these stories very little value apart from a mere guilty pleasure -- and they even fail at that, because I didn't find the majority of them very enjoyable or appealing. There's no real character development, no message, no nothing, just a slight faade (sorry, couldn't help myself) which, under the pretense of being a story, serves to simply provide a backdrop for Barker's incredibly one-tracked mind. The result is nothing short of mind-numbing and uninteresting. There's no suspense, as I don't give a damn about these characters -- they're cardboard cutouts, so if they die a particularly gory death I'm not moved in the slightest.
Another problem is that many of these tales quickly shun any pretense of providing a decently stimulating reading experience by quickly shoving supernatural entities like ghosts, demons etc. into the plot. Who needs actual character development when you can have a couple of demons playing a melody using the dismembered bodies of a couple of unfortunate, surprisingly recyclable and faceless persons as instruments instead? Really, I grew so bored of stunts like this that after the 6th time they're really not shocking anymore, rendering the one and only vice of these stories -- sheer shock value -- useless due to overexposure.

What perturbs me is that I can't recall being equally dissatisfied with the first three volumes -- maybe a refreshment of my memory will expose them as equally pointless, in which case this review can speak for the entire six volumes.

Those were my main gripes with these stories; it's entirely possible that I simply cannot appreciate Barker's genius and that he's actually making incredibly intellectual statements which are hidden under that layer of grime. If so, colour me surprised. I somehow highly doubt it, though.

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Reading Progress

12/26/2011 page 68
14.0% ""The Inhuman Condition" was, IMO, unbelievably ... bad."
12/27/2011 page 108
23.0% "Book Four is so far utterly unremarkable, even boring. Barker, what is this >_<"
12/28/2011 page 113
24.0% "Still no better. Why am I finding most of this trite?"
01/02/2012 page 243
51.0% "Meh."
01/02/2012 page 243
51.0% "The way this is going, I foresee myself being forced to force myself to finish this :\" 1 comment
01/08/2012 page 300
63.0% "C'mon I can do this... only 150 more pages :P"
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Nikolaus (new)

Nikolaus Geromont Haha xD

Mike Marsbergen How pretentious

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