Jennifer Graham's Reviews > Abarat

Abarat by Clive Barker
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Jan 21, 2011

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bookshelves: ya-fiction
Read in January, 2011

The trip to the other world is a time-honored trope in children's storytelling, one which can provide rewardingly rich material when done well. Unfortunately the YA shelves are full of derivative trips to fairy-land: a tarnished Oz here, a wonderless Wonderland there, where the author uses the journey as a bland gimmick. So I was skeptical when I picked up Abarat--a girl in boring humdrum real world is whisked away to fantasy land? Of course she is.

But Abarat surpassed my expectations--it's beautifully imagined. Clive Barker's long engagement with body horror makes an appearance, populating the world with creatures that are bizarre, homely, and often truly terrifying. Something about the tone just works, and while I can't put my finger on it, it has something to do with Barker's narrative authority. He's fully engaged with this world, rather than tossing it off. Tonally it reminds me a lot of The Dark Crystal or Labyrinth--it's just strange enough to be absolutely trustworthy. Recommended to anyone who likes YA fantasy or dark fantasy in general.
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Gini Cool review, I loved this book!

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