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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  18,515 ratings  ·  606 reviews
For more than two decades, Clive Barker has twisted the worlds of horrific and surrealistic fiction into a terrifying, transcendent genre all his own. With skillful prose, he enthralls even as he horrifies; with uncanny insight, he disturbs as profoundly as he reveals. Evoking revulsion and admiration, anticipation and dread, Barker's works explore the darkest contradictio ...more
Paperback, 358 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Gallery Books (first published 1988)
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Aaron I wouldn't start here if you're considering Clive Barker, but that's just me. The earlier collection, The Books of Blood Volumes 1-3 (this is technica…moreI wouldn't start here if you're considering Clive Barker, but that's just me. The earlier collection, The Books of Blood Volumes 1-3 (this is technically volume 6, but it's the weakest in the series), is probably the best horror fiction Barker ever wrote, though many of his longer novels are also quite good. (less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  18,515 ratings  ·  606 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
”They were with him still, perfectly remembered. Eleven rooms and eleven bodies, fixed in his mind’s eye. The wall Decker had taken five years to build had been brought down in as many minutes, and by its architect. Boone was at the mercy of his madness again. He heard it whine in his head, coming from eleven slit windpipes, from eleven punctured bellies. Breath and bowel gas, singing the old mad songs.”

Aaron Boone has been under the care of the psychologist Philip Decker for years. The goal is
Johann (jobis89)
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"When the sun goes out and there's only night, we'll live on the earth. It'll be ours."

After being convinced by his psychiatrist that he is responsible for a whole host of murders, Boone flees to the semi-fantastical Midian, a crypt inhabited by shape-shifting monsters who call themselves the Nightbreed.

I only needed to read the first couple of paragraphs of Cabal to be reminded why I have fallen for Barker's works - his writing is simply incredible. His ability to present horror and gore in su
Joe Valdez
Apr 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I'm abandoning the much cherished dark fantasy novel Cabal by Clive Barker at the 118 page mark. My father was a big fan of Barker's in the '80s; I remember him mentioning Books of Blood which as a 14-year-old Texas boy, sounded like something I'd like. I'm not above giving this novel another try when the events outside my window aren't scarier than the ones a horror novelist conjured, but this was one of those books I started rewriting in my head while reading it: terrific theme and some solid ...more
Paul Nelson
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I listened to the audio of Cabal by Clive Barker which comes in at fifteen minutes shy of seven hours and follows the disturbed protagonist Aaron Boone. Boone is a troubled man and is manipulated by his psychiatrist into thinking he's a serial killer. This modern day witch doctor, Decker, doesn't want to kill him with drugs he wants Boone to be his scapegoat.
Through rumour and heresy he finds himself heading for the fabled Midian, where monsters take refugee, hot on his heels is his jilted girl
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
“Midian. He’d heard the name of that place spoken maybe half a dozen times by people he’d met on the way through, usually those whose strength was all burned up. When they called on Midian it was as a place of refuge; a place to be carried away to. And more: a place where whatever sins they’d committed– real or imagined– would be forgiven them.”

Cabal is the story of a town called Midian and its monstrous residents, the Nightbreed. It is a story of humanity vs monsters, nothing unusual in that un
Michael Sorbello
Cabal is the story of Boone, a tortured soul haunted by the conviction that he has committed atrocious crimes. In a necropolis in the wilds of Canada, he seeks refuge and finds the last great creatures of the world - the shape-shifters known as the Nightbreed. They are possessed of unearthly powers-and so is Boone. In the hunt for Boone, they too will be hunted. Now only the courage of this strange human can save them from extinction. And only the undying passion of a woman can save Boone from h ...more
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So much of this book is said in subtext, in the language that the characters speak secretly of themselves and others, that I see a lot of readers having completely missed the point or not even willing to formulate an opinion to take a stab at answering the questions they say the story raised for them and never answered. The heart of the book is Lori, a highly sympathetic and believable female character (Barker's good at that), and the shift from Boone's narrative to hers at first felt jarring, m ...more
Livian Grey
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this more when I was younger, and it is a memorable read but not something I always go back to. I was reading this and Great and Secret Show early on, and he shaped my words more than most authors. The dialogue was perfectly arranged in many parts. Boone is a hard character to root for, you're on Lori's side more the whole time. Overall Decker is a perfect nemesis but seems to be revealed too early, so the twists are elsewhere in relation to the Night Breed. ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This wasn't unentertaining, but it's certainly not why I like Clive Barker.

CABAL is a contemporary gothic love story that I could only describe as Edgar Allan Poe meets Beetlejuice. Or Tim Burton if he stopped trying to make goth culture cute and accessible. It's simplistic, yet it means to be simplistic and I just didn't find the Clive Barker that I love, who enjoys pushing boundaries in this book.

It was well-crafted at best, but not an inspiring read.
Leo Robertson
(Okay so for whatever reason this appears as two books and my review didn't appear for this version? Well here it is again :D)

This year, I’ve gotten a stronger understanding of the difference between literary and simple genre fiction- or at least how I would define them.

A literary story needs to provide some unique psychological or philosophical insight or at least present an existing insight in a new way.

Genre fiction provides no new insight: it’s a reshuffling of existing material, often done
Kenneth McKinley
Cabal is a novella by Barker that was the basis for the 1990 movie Nightbreed. It's a tale of a character named Boone who believes that he is a serial killer. During sessions with his therapist, Dr. Decker, he tries to convince Boone that he has to give himself up for the murders he committed. Boone decides that he would rather kill himself than be imprisoned for life. After a botched suicide attempt, he meets a half-crazed man named Narcissus. From him, Boone learns of a refuge for monsters tha ...more
Kelly Furniss
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is all about Boone a man who is framed by someone very close to him, in a trusting profession for a series of gruesome murders he didn't commit.
He seeks refuge in the wilds of Canada where he comes across the shape-shifters known as the Night breeds together they both have unearthly powers. Both are been hunted down though and both are needing to be saved.
The gore is plentiful, a well crafted tale that caught my imagination. The characterisation is spot on and it's very atmospheric. I
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
A long gestation - bought 2001, completely

Midian is the Vanishing Point of Reference

"Cabal" is a bloodier The Graveyard Book: hero lives in cemetery among...uh, friends...because normal life is ruined by machinations of psycho-killer; but that isn't enough for the evil doctor. No. Decker (played in the movie by David Cronenberg) has to press the issue...but goodthing for the hero that not everything in and under the cemetery is dead. And there goes the hellraiser, being chased by the
Suzana Vuksanovic
Dec 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really took me by surprise. Although it is a story that includes much that is supernatural, I found it extraordinarily believable. In fact I found myself wishing that Midian was real. Midian is where the bulk of the action in the book takes place, and can be applied both to the ghost town and the cemetery that lies nearby. Even in it's heyday the town of Midian was a one street town, so the unusual thing about this cemetary is it's hugeness. The inscriptions on the various plots (which ...more
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
If you have never read Clive Barker before, start with Books of Blood Volumes 1-3, and then, if you enjoyed that, go for 4-6.

This review applies only to "Cabal," and not the short stories from Books of Blood, Volume 6, that are included in most versions of the novel.

The nostalgia pull of reading Clive Barker’s “Books of Blood” when I was 20 years old almost moves this to three stars, but I just can’t do it. Clive Barker excels at (a) evocative and concise turns of phrase, (b) novel premises, if
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
First published back in 1988, ‘Cabal’ followed the release of the hugely popular novel ‘Weaveworld’. The story turns all our ideas about horror fiction on its head, with Barker’s classic tale of misguided humanity. The tale subtly tackles the conception, misguided judgment and ridicule of views on homosexual community, with the homosexuals represented as the Nightbreed. Hounded, hunted and attacked, merely due to their way of life, the novel takes you into a world of questions and suggested conc ...more
Holly (The GrimDragon)
The wind was not invisible. It had a texture, as though it carried a weight of dust, the motes steadily gumming up her eyes and sealing her nose, finding its way into her underwear and up into her body by those routes too.

Cabal is the inspiration behind Barker's film, Nightbreed. I have seen Nightbreed twice, once well before it was appropriate viewing & then I rewatched it as a horror obsessed teenager. All I really remember from the film is that David Cronenberg was brilliant in it! After havi
Cody | CodysBookshelf
The basis for the horror film Nightbreed, Clive Barker's short 1988 novel Cabal is typically Barkian in all the best ways. Off the page drips this author's trademark transcendent prose; poetic and striking and maddeningly puzzling, line for line Barker is one of the most talented writers in the business. I must admit I am sure parts of this story went over my head, but I don't mind — that gives me cause to revisit this dark tale again in a couple of years.

This is the story of a man called Boone
Mar 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
Review I wrote in 2003

This is a horror about ’half dead’ people, who actually turn out to be far less threatening and dangerous than the living, perhaps something to think about. I actually read this a couple of years ago. This is the first and only book I have ever read by Clive Barker and to be honest I was not that impressed. It was not scary and I found the overall plot a bit ridiculous and the main female characters a bit two dimensional, but it would be interesting to see what other people
Jamie Stewart
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the third story that I’ve read by Clive Barker and although it wasn’t as enjoyable as those other works it is by know means a poor effort. The authors unique writing style, defined by a fearlessness in description towards gore or sex is vivid and barrier pushing as always. I can see why some people can find this too much. The gory scenes are described with a matter of fact detachment particularly when the author is referring to the deceased. The sex scenes are described with unashamed pa ...more
Christina Crooks
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Clive Barker's dark Cabal (the movie "Nightbreed" is based on it) is one of his many great tales. I'm almost as impressed by this author's economical writing power and his grasp of human nature as I am with his original stories. This one's a horror love story that begins with a trusted but secretly psychotic psychiatrist convincing the hero he's a murderer. Hunted, the hero seeks a safe haven with the shape-shifting Nightbreed.There's one gorgeously direct sex scene in Cabal that should be read ...more
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
CABAL is a zombie story as only Barker could have written it. Now I need to see the movie...
P. Aaron Potter
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
If you’re not quite ready to get vicariously blood-drenched, but you’d like a taste of the later Barker’s work, try “Cabal.” Like “Hellbound Heart,” it was published after the Books of Blood but is sometimes repackaged as an extension of that series. As a bonus, one of the short stories usually bundled with it is “The Last Illusion,” which served as the basis for the film “Lord of Illusions,” an urban fantasy starring the always excellent Scott Bakula. “Cabal” itself would go on to form the bas ...more
May 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, 2009, barker-clive
There is something special about Clive Barker's prose. Perhaps in particular his early works like the short fiction in The Books of Blood and The Hellbound Heart, and Cabal is clearly (pardon the pun) of the same breed.

Barker writes with all the stops out and throws his readers into the midst of a world both nightmarish and fantastic. A world of gross depravity, yet human in all its monstrosity. Barker gives the monsters and outcasts of his fiction souls, making them perhaps more human than some
Richard Wright
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
A short novel singing a hymn to perversity. Cabal takes a close look a monsters, and discovers that there is a lot more to them than appearances lead you to believe. At the same time, there's no escaping the fact that they remain... well, monsters. It's a beautifully written story, but one that is too often accorded partialities that I'm not sure are inherent in the text. Minority groups are often quick to relate the metaphor of Midian to themselves, but that can only be done on the most selecti ...more
Thomas Strömquist
This book was even better than I remembered from reading it a long time ago. The protagonist Boone is a very disturbed man and when his psychiatrist shows him picture evidence of his heinous crimes, he is convinced that being the monster he is, he does not have a place among the living no more but that he belongs in the mythical Midian. When he struggled to get there, he finds out that he doesn't belong there either, but he will...

The narrative is dreamlike and paints very clear pictures (making
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: demons, horror, usa
A bit disappointed with this one. Maybe it was shocking and scary in the eighties but it's not now.

The plot seemed confusing some of the time. I didn't understand why Midian existed or the reason for the 'Monsters'. Did it mean if you were a terrible person in life, you get to come back and eat human flesh? Also you'd think that they would have more in common with Decker, than Boone and Lori as he was evil.

I'm not sure if there is a follow up to this but I wouldn't be interested in reading it.
Jim Peterson
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
I just love Clive Barker. He may write horror and fantasy, but he writes some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read. I only wish this one were longer. ...more
Jovana Autumn
Let me start this review by saying that this book just works for me.

➔I love when a horror book has a good plot and a message behind it. Cabal is a horror book primarily focusing on its’, you guessed it, Cabal(here’s a definition from Wikipedia):

A cabal is a group of people who are united in some close design, usually to promote their private views or interests in an ideology, a state, or another community, often by intrigue and usually unbeknownst to those who are outside their group.

➔It’s f
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Club de Lectura d...: Cabal: Vuestras minirreseñas 2 5 Oct 13, 2020 03:46AM  
Club de Lectura d...: Cabal: Sin Spoilers 8 7 Sep 16, 2020 10:13AM  
Club de Lectura d...: Cabal: Zona Spoiler 3 8 Sep 16, 2020 10:09AM  
Nightbreed. 4 21 Dec 18, 2017 08:03PM  
SQHS Sci-Fi/Fanta...: Nightbreed 1 3 Apr 29, 2017 07:48AM  
Horror Aficionados : Cabal by Clive Barker 101 104 Jul 23, 2014 08:10AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Author with the same name credited for wrong book 2 21 Nov 12, 2013 12:32AM  

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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

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