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3.75  ·  Rating details ·  4,854 ratings  ·  180 reviews
A boy has an encounter with a man who causes extinctions of other species, so he grows up to be a man who documents (and thus appeals for a halt to) those extinctions. This dark fantasy tale is unlike Clive Barker's other recent ones: it is more tightly plotted, and more of this world. In a sequence of well-executed stories within stories (comparable to Russian dolls), Bar ...more
Paperback, 594 pages
Published May 1st 1997 by Harper Voyager (first published July 1996)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,854 ratings  ·  180 reviews

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Nov 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
Even though it's well written & explores grand themes (like the extinction of species, the sadness of killing off bloodlines because of homosexuality; also about the uselessness of immortality), the plot is convoluted & sometimes Barker suffers from the redundancy that plagues writers like his peer, S. King.

I LOVE that Barker explores dreams within dreams logic: he compares it to Russian nesting dolls. Sometimes the protagonist dreams of the past, relives events, becomes a part of someone else's
Nov 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
My first book by Clive Barker! Had sky high expectations, but felt underwhelmed at least from the fear factor perspective. I felt that the author had very ambitious goals with the novel, and had tried to tackle very sensitive topics. He was not writing just a horror novel. I agree and respect that. However, the story did not live up to its potential, at least in my humble opinion.

Full review to come soon! :)
Cody | CodysBookshelf
”He had seen mourning in a hundred species in his time. Made photographs of elephants at the bodies of their fallen kind, grief in every tiny motion of their mass; and monkeys, maddened by sorrow, shrieking like keening clansmen around their dead; a zebra, nosing at a foal brought down by wild dogs, head bowed by the weight of her loss. It was unkind, this life, for things that felt connection, because connections were always broken, sooner or later. Love might be pliant, but life was brittle. I ...more
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I keep circling typing in comments here because this book so totally blew my mind that I can't even begin to get my thoughts together.

First we meet Will, a man in his forties who goes around the world photographing the conflicts between civilization and animals. He makes a mysterious trip to ask a man about two people, Jacob and Rosa. Shortly after this we get a flashback to when he was a boy, probably 12 or 13?, when he first encounters Jacob and Rosa. He makes a very strong connection with the
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Clive Barker is one of our finest living writers; far more than a mere genre horror writer, he imbues his novels with a tangible sense of soul, as well as candid, often unnerving explorations of our darker impulses, fears, and passions. Forbidden sexuality, the quest for immortality, corruption of the soul and damnation are just a few of the themes that often haunt his work and in SACRAMENT, all of these themes are on display in what is arguably his most personal and lyrical novel to date.

Will R
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I find myself mostly ambivalent regarding this novel. It didn't keep my interest long. It rarely entertained me.

Will Rabjohns is a photographer that specializes in animals and even more specifically the death of endangered animals. While he's out on a shoot Will is mauled by a polar bear and winds up in a coma where we, as his audience, are treated to the chronicle of Will's young teen years. After the death of his brother and the family moving to a new town Will meets Jacob Steep and Rosa McGe
Mark R.
Jul 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Clive Barker is not strictly a horror author, and I’m sure it’s been somewhat frustrating to him over his career to have carried this label years after writing his last true piece of horror fiction, Cabal, in 1988 (a case could be made, however, for Cold Heart Canyon [2001:] or Mister B. Gone [2008:], being horror). But his style of fantasy, even his children’s novels such The Thief of Always (1992) and the Abarat series (2002 and 2004), are so dark, and contain so many elements of horror
Oct 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay, scifi-fantasy
Whatever his flaws may be, there is no arguing the fact that Clive Barker is a visually stunning author. The scenes that he evokes in his writing will remain with one for years and linger long after any recollection of the plot has faded. I say this because I read this book on vacation over a decade ago. I remember devouring it, but I do not remember too much about the plot. I do however immediately recall lush scenes in a forest, a terrifying visual of a polar bear, a bedroom in San Francisco, ...more
Suzanne Synborski
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Clive Barker's Sacrament is a puzzle box, a mystery that begs to be solved. This novel stands apart in Barker's arsenal. It exudes a personal, contemplative aura. It cannot truly be considered horror or even fantasy. It might more accurately be regarded as something akin to magical realism. Those less-than-hardy readers who avoid books that contain blood and gore can read this book without fear of getting wet.

Sacrament is a thinking person's novel. It is a novel that examines the past and forete
The difference between Clive Barker and other most popular fiction/horror writers of his time (for example King or Simmons), is that Barker is a poet in his heart, and as such, he is only able to write about things that mean a lot to him, that are intimate, hurtful, that lay heavy on his shoulders, and go deep through his thoughts. That is why it became apparent over time that Barker's motifs were repeating themselves, growing and fading away, and going around in circles, this tendency becoming ...more
Feb 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Clive is one of my favorite authors, and it's been quite a while since I've read him. Throughout half of Sacrament it wasn't the story or characters that drove me on, it was Barker's voice. He's one of those guys whose novels come across as easily as if he were across the table from me telling a story.
Having said that, it's not the best I've read from him. Many critics have called Sacrament "the novel Barker had to write". This because the lead character is gay, and the story revolves around his
Barker always amazes me, because I think he's highly underrated. The prose is always so tight, and so effortlessly good (you don't feel him reaching, and therefor never trip over it). But what really impressed me about this book was the pacing: it's a longer one, and I've read books numbering this page count or less that dragged, or rushed over some things and lingered on others. But Barker knows just when to pull you away, to move on to something new to keep your interest at the same peaked lev ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Clive Barker is a terrific author. I loved The Hellbound Heart, and the Books of Blood series. However, Sacrament, falls short. Barker is a very original author, and Sacrament is no exception, but at the same time this novel doesn't seem to go anywhere. I read the synopsis for this book, and it immediately roped me in. It seemed very interesting and different from his previous works. The book starts off promising but then it completely goes downhill. At times I was confused as to what was going ...more
Joshua Jorgensen
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Clive Barker is a master. This novel is a truly meditative and breathtaking exploration of death, love, loss, forgiveness, and coming of age. It is a philosophical probe into our fears and hopes, and is an unapologetic reverie of sexuality, desire, and LIFE. This book is a commentary on the human experience. It took me a while to read this novel, mostly because I wanted to think about what I was reading, meditate on it, and relish the way Barker strung together his sentences.
The imagery is
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Odd that I haven't read a Clive Barker novel in years. This book reminded me why I used to read him on a regular basis. I believe I need to rekindle my reading affair with him again. If I wasn't eating, sleeping or writing, I was reading this book.

Let's just say I sat there weeping for the last 40 pages. Just the quiet "hey, why is my sight blurry" situation. A major plot reveal was given to the reader long before the end but I didn't pick up on the clues. There were actually a few of them.

Duncan Ralston
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love Clive Barker's work, but this is by far my favorite. Focusing solely on Will Rabjohns and his journey into the past, the depth of character is stronger here than in some of his other books; it feels as though some of the author's own history has helped to texture the character and his story. The villains are two of the most interesting I've ever read, immortal creatures bent on driving species into extinction (which is likely meant as a dark mirror image of humanity).
If you like profound
Missy (myweereads)
“Life was not a reversible commodity. Things passed away, never to return: species, hopes, years.”

Sacrament by Clive Barker is a novel which is more than what it seems. We meet Will Rabjohns who is a wildlife photographer, great at his craft. During a terrifying encounter with a polar bear, Will falls into a coma thus revisiting memories from his childhood. Here he remembers meeting two larger than life beings who introduced him to the prospect of extinction and this eventually became a mission
avery (avereads)
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"'Living and dying we feed the fire, 'Steep said softy. 'That is the melancholy truth of things."'

When esteemed wildlife photographer Will Rabjohns faces near death at the hands of a polar bear he falls into a coma. There he is taken back to a strange encounter he had as a boy with a man who causes the extinction of animals.

This novel was a really unique one, a dark fantasy like no other. Clive Barker layers the stories within each other so brilliantly and tackles so many metaphysical topics you
Jun 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
The reader is introduced to Will Rabjohns, a photographer of soon to be extinct species. He has his deal of fame, an Englishman living in San Francisco and a gay.

After we take a look at the average day of the main character, Will falls into a coma. This acts as a way for Barker to shift our attention to Will's childhood. The reader goes over the major events that made Will into who he is now and builds the basis for the rest of the book. At the same time, it's uncertain how the book's present in
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A dark tale that skates around the ideas and principals of extinction, both individual and as an entire species. The storyline finds itself placed both in the gay bars of San Francisco and the rather different atmosphere of the Yorkshire Dales. The novel blends dark fantasy with a sprinkling of the exotic and erotic. The base of the story skirts between the physical world of mankind and the haunting and surreal world of the magical and fantastic. The book opens the doors to many questions for th ...more
Really fantastic read. Barker proves once again how effortlessly he handles urban fantasy. I'm a big fan of his work and writing style and the types of characters he writes, and I felt like this book fully delivered on everything a fan would expect of him. I'm actually shocked now when I think of how little I'd heard about this book. That's one of the reasons I picked it up, because it seems to be the one Barker novel that no one talks about. But it's just as good, if not better, than the ones t ...more
This is another supernatural novel by Clive Barker. The novel is about a homosexual (Yes. That is an important part of the novel.) photographer who had an encounter with two very odd people in his youth. After being mauled by a Polar Bear, the author's youthful encounter becomes important to him.

The plot was interesting, but not fantastic or amazing by any means. It was a standard read, but I would really hope for more from this author. I also felt his necessity to be descriptive of some of the
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A mighty book, filled with the fantastic elements of Barker's later work (as opposed to the outright horror of his early books), but Sacrament has a story that I found much more relatable than Weaveworld, for example. His storytelling is at his peak here. To be honest, the last one hundred pages started to bore me, but then the last forty picked right back up. A bit of a strained travelogue isn't enough for me to rate this terrific tale less than five stars. Sacrament reminded me why I love Cliv ...more
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
At first I didn't get into it very much, but by the end I was staying up all hours of the night to see what would come next. I tend to enjoy epic fantasy more than "low" fantasy, but the way Barker mixed the real human struggles of his characters with a fantastic reality just under the surface of it all gripped me as I never expected. This book also has its deep moments, where it gets you thinking about life and the meaning of it all. For me it was truly breathtaking, an excellent read! ...more
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So far, Sacrament is Barker's best, fullest, most imaginative works. Once again highly recommended to all. ...more
Anna (storm_and_star)
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sacrament is a novel that touches on the frailty of life, aids, the extinction of species, what it means to be a man.. It's a book that reminds you to appreciate the world with all its beings, to appreciate them a little more, or at least not to take them for granted. As so often with Clive Barker it's difficult to place his work in specific genres, but I'd say it's a dark fantasy. And it's beautifully written, as always.

I loved the main character, Will, with his honest and brave personality. W
Jun 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Stupid, like the author.
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: good, slashreaders
SlashReaders: Alright so the excerpt doesn't really tell you much about this book. I actually found this one thoroughly fascinating if a bit confusing at points but once you get into it curiosity definitely drives you on to figure out exactly what is going on. And the story between the main character and his past lover is extremely touching. There are a couple of wonderful scenes in this book that are just... and no I'm not talking about sex scenes. Mmm... And I'm not going to ruin any more of t ...more
Gilda Felt
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part horror (a very small part,) part fantasy, part environmental plea, it follows the evolution of Will Rabjohns from not very likable boy to a man searching for who knows what. He certainly doesn’t. But what happened to him that created most of the evolution, that sets the course of his life, is what makes up the major part of the book. It jumps smoothly from boyhood to adulthood and back, so that we learn who he is, why he is, and what he can become.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I do h
Nov 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I almost set this one aside and that would have been a tragedy.

I'll let you in on a little secret: I hadn't read a Clive Barker book before now. A story, I found in a Poppy Z. Brite compilation, sure, but not a whole book. And I also had no idea he had anything to do with Hellraiser until I was trying to see if he'd written some kind of sequel to this one.
Colour me surprised.
The story contained in these pages gripped me tight and wouldn't let me go. Even now I'm sure I share a bit of Lord Fox
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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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“I am a man, and men are animals who tell stories. This is a gift from God, who spoke our species into being, but left the end of our story untold. That mystery is troubling to us. How could it be otherwise? Without the final part, we think, how are we to make sense of all that went before: which is to say, our lives?

So we make stories of our own, in fevered and envious imitation of our Maker, hoping that we'll tell, by chance, what God left untold. And finishing our tale, come to understand why we were born.”
“There was little comfort, this voice inside him said, in discovering a mystery at the wellspring of his life so banal his unremarkable mind could readily fathom it. Better, perhaps, to die in doubt, knowing there was some revelation still unfound, than to pursue and possess such a wretched certainty.” 6 likes
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