Dan Schwent's Reviews > The Hellbound Heart

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
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bookshelves: 2014

** spoiler alert ** Frank Cotton activated the Lemarchand Configuration and was whisked away by the Cenobites to experience "pleasure" no mortal has ever felt. Now, Frank's brother Rory and his wife Julie live in the house where his experiment occurred. Frank's looking to return to the fields we know and the price is blood...

As part of my continuing horror education, I had to give Clive Barker a shot, thus The Hellbound Heart.

This novella is pretty memorable but I wouldn't say I was scared by it. More creeped out than anything. Clive Barker has a pretty twisted imagination. The Cenobites and their idea of pleasure was pretty horrible. I really liked the idea of a wooden puzzle box that opens a gateway to another dimension.

Julie gradually falling under the spell of what was left of Frank was pretty cool. I had a pretty good idea of where the story would go and how it would end after she made contact with Frank but it was a fun, gore-strewn ride.

Aside from the short length, my only gripe with the book would be that Clive Barker's style seemed overly ornate at times.

Three things I learned from The Hellbound Heart:
1. If you find a wooden puzzle box, don't mess with it.
2. If there's a chance you'll encounter extradimensional beings, be sure you masturbate on the floor. It'll help you rebuild your body later.
3. If you go home with a woman you meet in a bar and she wants to have sex in a room devoid of furniture, make sure she doesn't have a knife.

3.5 out of 5 stars.
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Reading Progress

February 10, 2014 – Shelved
February 10, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
February 27, 2014 – Started Reading
February 27, 2014 –
February 27, 2014 –
February 28, 2014 – Shelved as: 2014
February 28, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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Gregor Xane I've got number 2 down.

Randolph You have to take into account the historical context that The Hellbound Heart was written in. You are reading it today but when it was written it was groundbreaking, as much as a Frankenstein was in it's time. There was nothing like this before it. It changed things in horror. The fact that there have been endless fugues and imitations, both better and worse, makes the original seem somewhat tepid by comparison unless you realize where things were at the time it was written.

Before this, even the decadents, masochists, and sadists foresaw only the torture of the mortal world as desirable and few eschewed spirituality completely. Even a Satanist believes in some deity.

Barker has now created the terror and horror of endless pain as "pleasure" beyond the mortal sphere but also a universe devoid of spirituality or deity. The Cenobites are demons, not gods, and many get there without intending to.

If this isn't scary, I don't know what is, because real life for many (most?) is not too far from this vision of endless pain and suffering in a seemingly godless universe.

End of rant.

Gregor Xane Well said, Randolph!

message 4: by Scott (new)

Scott Rhee While most if not all the sequels suck ass, the first "Hellraiser" movie, based on this novel, was actually pretty good. Scared the crap out of me when I saw it as a kid.

message 5: by Mike (new)

Mike Hmmn. No. 2 isn't as obvious as say, checking for knives on people you may be about to have sex with. No. 1 on the other hand is prone to all sorts of little spring-driven doohickeys that might give you a fatal illness (ex. "The Adventure of the Dying Detective.)

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