Apatt's Reviews > The Hellbound Heart

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

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 depraved man who is still not quite depraved enough for his own liking so he seeks to up the ante to the next—even supernatural—level. So he bought this wooden puzzle box called “the Lemarchand's Configuration”, a sort of evil Rubik’s Cube, that—when solved—will open a door to let in weirdo creatures from another dimension called “The Cenobites”.

The box owner’s puzzle solving success will (according to dodgy legends) be rewarded unimaginable pleasures, the details of which are a bit vague but clothes are expected to be left on the floor at all times. This being a Clive Barker book:

The mind-bendingly horrific looking Cenobites show hapless Frank their idea of “pleasure”, which is definitely not in accordance with what it says in his dictionary, and leave him as a stain on the floor. All is not lost, however, soon after Frank’s disappearance his brother, Rory, and Rory’s wife Julia, move into Frank’s house. One night some blood is accidentally spilled during a DIY session, and Frank, the stain, absorbs it and begins the slow process of reconstitution...

I have always liked Barker's prose style, he often comes up with surprising turns of phrase, and sometimes suddenly switches into lyricism when it suits him. His horror fiction always includes some grotesque imagery, The Hellbound Heart is even more grotesque than most of his other works. The climax between Frank and the Cenobites is particularly gruesome. None of the characters in this book are likable, and most are despicable, but I like that Barker always takes the time to develop his villains and monsters. The motivation of some of the human characters is a little hard to believe, and they tend to accept the supernatural too readily.

Pinhead, the posterboy Cenobite

The Cenobites, on the other hand, are fascinating semi-evil beings who are not interested in world domination, hell on Earth, or anything like that. They only turn up to show you their idea of a good time (which, in all likely hood, is extremely contrary to your own.) if you make the fatal mistake of invoking them. They are also weird looking buggers, you would not want to meet one in a dark alley, or even a well-lit one.

The Hellbound Heart is a terrific and horrific read if you like your horror bloody. If you don’t find the genre particularly appealing (Hi Cecily!), or if Ghost is your idea of a horror film then perhaps you would be happier leaving it on the shelf (at the book shop). It is not for the faint of heart, and should not be read in the dark; as that is very bad for your eyes.
* There are literally “shitty monsters” in Barker’s brilliant dark fantasy The Great and Secret Show. Highly recommended!

• The original title for the film adaptation was “Sadomasochists from Beyond the Grave”.
• Somebody uploaded the full Hellraiser movie to Youtube (not me!), it will probably be taken down soon, so I won't link to it, but you can have a quick look ;)
All The Weirdest Secrets You Never Knew About Clive Barker's Hellraiser

“The doorway was even now opening to pleasures no more than a handful of humans had ever known existed, much less tasted-pleasures which would redefine the parameters of sensation, which would release him from the dull round of desire, seduction and disappointment that had dogged him from late adolescence.”

Party tips for welcoming Cenobites:
“Upon the west wall he had set up a kind of altar to them, decorated with the kind of placatory offerings Kircher had assured him would nurture their good offices: bones, bonbons, needles. A jug of his urine-the product of seven days' collection-stood on the left of the altar, should they require some spontaneous gesture of self-defilement. On the right, a plate of doves' heads, which Kircher had also advised him to have on hand.”

“She wasn't sure why she went up, nor how to account for the odd assortment of feelings that beset her while there. But there was something about the dark interior that gave her comfort; it was a womb of sorts, a dead woman's womb.”

“She knew he was telling the truth, the kind of unsavory truth that only monsters were at liberty to tell. He had no need to flatter or cajole; he had no philosophy to debate, or sermon to deliver. His awful nakedness was a kind of sophistication. Past the lies of faith, and into purer realms.”
36 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Hellbound Heart.
Sign In »

Quotes Apatt Liked

Clive Barker
“No tears, please. It's a waste of good suffering.”
Clive Barker, The Hellbound Heart

Clive Barker
“Well, here he was. They could save each other, the way the poets promised lovers should. He was mystery, he was darkness, he was all she had dreamed of. And if she would only free him he would service her - oh yes - until her pleasure reached that threshold that, like all thresholds, was a place where the strong grew stronger, and the weak perished. Pleasure was pain there, and vice versa. And he knew it well enough to call it home.”
Clive Barker, The Hellbound Heart

Clive Barker
“Spring, if it lingers more than a week beyond its span, starts to hunger for summer to end the days of perpetual promise. Summer in its turn soon begins to sweat for something to quench its heat, and the mellowest of autumns will tire of gentility at last, and ache for a quick sharp frost to kill its fruitfulness. Even winter — the hardest season, the most implacable — dreams, as February creeps on, of the flame that will presently melt it away. Everything tires with time, and starts to seek some opposition, to save it from itself.”
Clive Barker, The Hellbound Heart

Reading Progress

May 28, 2016 – Started Reading
May 29, 2016 – Shelved
May 29, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Cecily (last edited May 29, 2016 06:31AM) (new)

Cecily (Hi Apatt!)

Bleurgh. The books sounds grim. And not in a good way.
But by some possibly evil alchemy, you've conjured an entertaining and largely tasteful review.

I'm also intrigued at your implication that there may be a type of Rubik's Cube that is NOT evil.

message 2: by Apatt (last edited May 30, 2016 07:56PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Apatt Paul wrote: "Apatt, awesome review. I enjoyed this book and even though I didn't think it amazing, I fell in love with the movie series. The whole world of the cenobites is dark yet curiously interesting! Pinhe..."

Thank you, Paul. I can't remember whether the movie sequels are any good? I don't think Barker wrote them?
Somebody uploaded the first 2 full movies Youtube! :D

I hope to read Imajica this year. Gotta love Braker!

Fabian {Councillor} Amazing review, Apatt *adds it*. Very helpful information in your review!

Apatt Councillor wrote: "Amazing review, Apatt *adds it*. Very helpful information in your review!"

Thank you, Councillor. So glad you find it useful. Have you seen the film?

Fabian {Councillor} No, I didn't even know there is one until yesterday. My living-under-the-rock self prevented me from learning about it earlier. :D

Apatt Councillor wrote: "No, I didn't even know there is one until yesterday. My living-under-the-rock self prevented me from learning about it earlier. :D"

You can watch the whole movie Youtube ;)

Fabian {Councillor} Apatt wrote: "Councillor wrote: "No, I didn't even know there is one until yesterday. My living-under-the-rock self prevented me from learning about it earlier. :D"

You can watch the whole movie Youtube ;)"

Oh yes, I have just added it to my "watch later" list. Thank you :D

back to top