Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Hellbound Heart” as Want to Read:
The Hellbound Heart
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Hellbound Heart

(Hellraiser #1)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  40,979 ratings  ·  2,193 reviews
In a quiet house on a quiet street Frank and Julia are having an affair. Not your ordinary affair. For Frank it began with his own insatiable sexual appetite, a mysterious lacquered box- and then an unhinged voyage through a netherworld of imaginable pleasures and unimaginable horror… Now Frank - or what is left of Frank - waits in an empty room. All he wants is to live as ...more
Paperback, 164 pages
Published November 1st 1991 by HarperTorch (first published November 1986)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Hellbound Heart, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Dylan Lockhart The classic ones are Stephen King and Lovecraft, but I would recommend Poppy Z. Brite (the first ones like Lost Souls, a story with vampires, or Exqui…moreThe classic ones are Stephen King and Lovecraft, but I would recommend Poppy Z. Brite (the first ones like Lost Souls, a story with vampires, or Exquisite Corpse, a romance between a cannibal and a necrophiliac), she's a true queen of splatterpunk.

For the gifts (for other readers), there's a lot of goodies about Hellraiser (the first movie was made by Clive Barker so it's okay about canon ;) ), my step-dad had the puzzle box and a Pinhead figure and they were quite good!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  40,979 ratings  ·  2,193 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Hellbound Heart
Johann (jobis89)
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"No tears, please. It's a waste of good suffering."

In a quest to satiate his darkest pleasures, Frank Cotton obtains and opens Lemarchand's box, summoning the cenobites who instead of granting him pleasure and entry into this promised new world, torture him and trap him within the box. However, his brother's wife, Julia, who had a previous dalliance with Frank, has found a way to bring him back - and it involves blood.

Well, I had to use that quote, didn't I?! Even though there was literally a pl
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is Frank.

Frank is not having a good time. No, sir, he is not. You see, Frank thought he was signing up for a time of his life when he summoned the gruesome Cenobites, but he made a mistake of not reading the terms and conditions when he summoned them. Now he is stuck in eternal torment in Cenobite world and it's not the figurative eternal torment that poets and lovers feel, but quite literal eternal torment where his flesh is ripped from his body until he is nothing but chunks of meat.

Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Rare RARE (!) instance in which the movie actually manages to surpass the novel. & only barely.

Then again, Barker directed his own creation on celluloid, so there's that. "Hellraiser" is not even included in the sacred list of horror films I adore (the genre which may be the hardest to love, easiest to make fun of, and which for that reason is my favorite), but no one can't say that it isn't mega creepy & creative. The merger of pleasure and pain-- Ahhh!

This novella (which can be digested in on
Sadie Hartmann
Well, it's official. I'm *not* a Clive Barker fan. I love horror. Horror is a precious genre because the stakes are very high--I'm naturally prone to be a timid, fearful person when it comes to adventure or doing risky things. For instance, I would never consider bungee jumping or parachuting from an airplane. I would skip a white water rafting trip or a zipline through the jungle. I don't even like to go inside a haunted house attraction at the carnival.
But I do love reading horror
Jun 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
This book is regarded by many as one of horror's absolute classics. There is also a well know movie series under the Hellraiser title. Well, don't get me wrong, the book has some fine ingredients: the Cenobites (absolute eerie characters from hell or who knows where), the magic dice device that summons them and Frank trying desperately to become human again. And that's the point. The main story about Julia (doesn't love Roy), Rory (unloved husband, brother of Frank) and Frank (son of a gun, dare ...more
mark monday
Please allow me to introduce myself.

 photo dEATHmANgif.gif

Actually, let's save the introductions for when I meet up with you later this evening, in the wee hours of the night.

First things first, as an inhabitant of the Dimension of Everlasting Pain I am not exactly a disinterested party when it comes to reviewing this novella. But I do feel I am able to provide a relatively unbiased review of this famous work, despite my intimate knowledge of all of the delightful and inspiring torture tableaux on display.

The Hel
3.5 stars.
...... it will tear your soul apart.

This wasn't a bad little novella - except some of the sentences seemed to be thrown together; like Frankenstein's monster. I'm not sure if its the authors writing style? - but every so often there would be a sentence that staunched the flow - and some words he used were unnecessary. The dictionary didn't know the meaning.

Frank Cotton gains possession of Lemarchands puzzle box (a box of wonders) - aka Lemarchands Configuration - after
Laurie  |  LOHF
Dec 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
“No tears, please. It’s a waste of good suffering.”

My boyfriend made the mistake of allowing me to pick out the movie on one of our earliest dates way back in the late 80’s. I chose Hellraiser which was based upon this novella. I didn’t know he had never seen a horror movie and couldn’t figure out why he was so pale and quiet when we left the theater. The poor boy married me and his movie going experiences have never been the same and I’ll always have fond feelings for Hellraiser. Recently I re
Joe Valdez
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My introduction to the fiction of Clive Barker is The Hellbound Heart, a compulsively readable and horribly tasteful novella soaked in blood, sex and magic. It's a fast read but abounds in small delights. Published in 1986 as the third volume of the anthology Night Visions edited by George R.R. Martin and a stand-alone with the release of a film adaptation written and directed by Barker as Hellraiser, this piece excels as storytelling and prose. Character and detail fall further down the list, b ...more
Dan Schwent
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1980s, reviewed, horror
"No tears, please. It's a waste of good suffering."

The Hellbound Heart is, in my humble opinion, Clive Barker's finest work of horror. I know most people give that to The Books of Blood, and while I found them enjoyable, I've never really found the need to return them. In contrast, I find that I reread this one every couple of years.

What makes The Hellbound Heart work? For one thing, it's short. Often if I'm enjoying a book, I want it to go on longer, but here Barker finds pretty much the perf
Michael Fierce
Although I enjoyed the book, The Hellbound Heart, the movie version, Hellraiser - with the awesomely cheesy blue and yellow 80's FX - is a bit better and mainly because it was more fully realized.

And, as a fun note, John Kozak, the singer of my band, Of The Arcane, had his head sculpted by our friend, Mitch Gonzales, into the likeness of Pinhead, and was presented to Clive at the very first signing we attended of his at The Dark Carnival bookstore, in Berkeley, CA.

Clive liked it so much, Mitch
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Ah, Hellraiser! One of the first *proper* horror movies I ever watched, on VHS tape at a sleepover when I was around 8/9 years old (probably wholly inappropriate oops). But by God, did the cenobites make an impression on me.

Finally got around to reading the novella, which inspired this classic horror movie (it was adapted into a movie by Clive Barker himself) and felt throughly impressed! And I have to say, this is one of the rare instances that I prefer the movie adaptation over the book, but
Alex (The Bookubus)
I'm a big fan of Clive Barker and Hellraiser is one of my favourite horror films so I was fairly certain I would enjoy this one. And enjoy it I did. There are definitely some differences between the book and the film so it was interesting to see the changes but I think both work fantastically well. The opening chapter alone is so goddamn strong it's mind-blowing. The ideas and the imagery are grotesque and fascinating, the writing is evocative and really works on all the senses making for an int ...more
Aug 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Have you met your monthly quota of books that include people being torn apart by fish-hooks on chains then dragged off into endless torment? No? Then I suggest you read some Clive Barker.

It's been a while since I visited the fevered worlds of Barker's imagination and I'd forgotten how readable he can be. Barker was very big in the 80s and 90s, and this book was the beginning of a multitude of his magical horror stories where sex, death and the occult are closely intertwined.

Some of Barker's boo
Matt Rudy
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5! If you consider yourself a horror fan then you must read this book! It's an absolute classic!

The Hellbound Heart starts out from the perspective of Frank. This man is trying to figure out how to open the Lemarchand's box, so that he can unleash Cenobites into this world. Frank was told that once they came they could give him absolute pleasure. Well, it's safe to say that things go horribly wrong and the Cenobites trap Frank in their realm. Later on his brother and his brother's wife Ju
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“In moments they would be here-the ones Kircher had called the Cenobites, theologians of the Order of the Gash. Summoned from their experiments in the higher reaches of pleasure, to bring their ageless heads into a world of rain and failure.”

All hail Clive Barker, the king of arty (but mostly not farty*) horror. The Hellbound Heart is the novella which Barker adapted into the successful 1987 movie Hellraiser, which he also directed.

The Hellbound Heart is the story of Frank Cotton, a very depra
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘’No man could experience the profundity of such feeling and remain unchanged.’’ ‘’Κανείς δε θα μπορούσε να βιώσει το βάθος ενός τέτοιοι συναισθήματος και να παραμείνει αμετάβλητος.’’

Moral of the story: 1.Rubik's cubes are evil and 2.if a weird bitch takes you to a bedless room to fuck... run.

This is what happens when you decide you want to take BDSM to the next level due to your pursue of extreme pleasure.
Okay, Frank's obviously a dumbass. Like boi why are you trying to open a weird fuck
Oct 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Flannery by: Book Club Pick - 10/11
I’m assuming everyone in the world has seen the last Harry Potter movie? This isn’t a spoiler but there is this part in the movie where Voldemort is in some place that looks like a train station and he looks like a cross between some sort of fetus and a seahorse. When I saw it with my friends, we were all wondering what the frak we were looking at…in fact, it is pretty safe to say that I am still wondering a few months later. So I know Clive Barker wrote this novella decades before HP7p1 would c ...more
Clive Barker is the man.

Let me just tell you. This is only the second book of his I have ever read but I already know he and I are going to be best friends for life. He may even work his way into my heart the way that Stephen King and JK Rowling have. Who knows?

Look out, Clive Barker; I might just be hiding in the bushes. :D

The first book of his that I ever read was The Thief of Always and I could not believe I had waited as long as I had to read his work. If you haven’t read that one, you real
Graeme Rodaughan
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Horror fans looking for a shortish read with excellent imagery and taut storyline.
Shelves: horror
One of the better (possibly the best) books of Clive Barker's that I've read. I like the sparse structure with a clean straight through narrative.

Extraordinary idea and well executed. Will suit horror fans. While there is some gore, it's never gratuitous or over done.

The imagery in this book is remarkable for me in that it stays with me. It's moved into 'iconic,' status.
Edward Lorn
Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've now officially read three Clive Barker books to completion. The Great and Secret Show was my first, and though I enjoyed it, I can't remember what happened therein, nor can I recall exactly what I enjoyed about it. I do, however, recall laying it down and saying, "I need to find more from this author." I then went on to read The Thief of Always because I thought the blurb was coolio. I enjoyed it immensely. The rest of my experiences with Barker were not so good. I tried and failed to read ...more
Timothy Urges
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Barker flays your skin and makes you like it.
Helen Power
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
I remember when I was a kid, hanging out at the movie store, trying to decide what age-appropriate film to rent.  I always found myself back in the horror section, staring at the covers in fascination. Hellraiser was one of the covers I often returned to. It mesmerized me. I eventually saw the movie years later, and it quickly became a favourite.

I finally read the novella this brilliant movie was based on this year.  Being a novella, it is quite fast paced, and the horror begins within the first
Michael Sorbello
In a quiet house on a quiet street, Frank and Julia are having an affair. Not your ordinary affair, mind you. For Frank, it began with his own insatiable sexual appetite, a mysterious lacquered box and then an unhinged voyage through a netherworld of imaginable pleasures and unimaginable horror. Now Frank, or rather what's left of Frank, waits in an empty room in a state of utter madness. All he wants is to live as he was before. All Julia can do is bring him her unfulfilled passions... and a li ...more
Horace Derwent
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
you have pain, you feel pain? thank your suffering cuz it means you have a soul, and you'll have more when you're a pure soul, the more pain you have, the purer soul you engage ...more
Ashley Daviau
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s going to be hard to review this book and talk about it without gushing about my endless love for it but I’ll give it a try! Hellraiser was one of my first introductions into horror movies (and still remains one of my favourites) and I had absolutely no idea it was based on a book until many many years later. Fast forward to now when I’ve finally gotten around to reading it and I’m absolutely BLOWN away. It’s such a short book and definitely leaves you wanting more (but in a good way!) and i ...more
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
Not many minds can come up with the twisted worlds Clive Barker does. The plot for the Hellbound Heart is a creative, freaky version of Hell. The underlying theme is the fine lines between pleasure and pain, the greed and desperation of mankind to always seek what is beyond its reach and out of this world. But, besides all that, it is in a way a demented, twisted, dark, fairy-tale like love story. It focuses on a woman who believes she is in love with her husband’s brother, and would do anything ...more
Michelle {Book Hangovers}
Take two people, Frank and Julia:

Now imagine a box that you think if opened you'll find a sexual experience that will blow your mind, kindof like a Genie's lamp and your wishing for pure pleasure. Instead you open the box and get an eternity of torture. That's what Frank did...

Now imagine being so in love it become obsessive. That you'll do anything to bring a loved one back to you, even if that someone is disfigured, mangled and mutilated beyond belief causing a group of extra dimensional being
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dark, 2020, horror, novella
So cringe-worthy I couldn't stop reading. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Horror Italia: * Dicembre 2018 - Schiavi dell'inferno 82 57 Apr 10, 2021 07:56AM  
Was he heavily inspired by: Nightmare on Elm Street 13 154 Sep 30, 2019 06:31PM  
Club de Lectura d...: Hellraiser 2 9 May 11, 2018 11:14AM  
Horror Aficionados : The Hellbound Heart 55 117 Nov 21, 2017 03:46PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker 1 11 Aug 17, 2015 04:17AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Hellraiser: The Toll
  • The Complete Clive Barker's The Great And Secret Show
  • Hell House
  • The Winter Box
  • Hellbound Hearts
  • The Exorcist
  • The Kind Folk
  • Rosemary's Baby (Rosemary's Baby, #1)
  • Unamerica
  • Off Season (Dead River, #1)
  • The Fisherman
  • The Worm and His Kings
  • The Visitor
  • The Ruins
  • Clive Barker's Hellraiser: The Dark Watch, Volume 1
  • Negative Space
  • The Amityville Horror
  • Clive Barker's Hellraiser: Collected Best I
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

Other books in the series

Hellraiser (3 books)
  • The Scarlet Gospels
  • Hellraiser: The Toll

Articles featuring this book

"Horror fiction has traditionally dealt in taboo.… It makes monsters of household pets and begs our affection for psychos. It...
579 likes · 764 comments
“No tears, please. It's a waste of good suffering.” 236 likes
“She had opened a door... and now she was walking with demons. And at the end of her travels, she would have her revenge... Pain had made a sadist of her.” 68 likes
More quotes…