Books of Blood: Volume One Book reviews


Author(s): Clive BarkerDownload  


“Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” For those who only know Clive Barker through his long multigenre novels, this one-volume edition of the Books of Blood is a welcome chance to acquire the 16 remarkable horror short stories with which he kicked off his career. For those who already know these tales, the poignant introduction is a window on the creator’s mind. Reflecting back after 14 years, Barker writes: I look at these pieces and I don’t think the man who wrote them is alive in me anymore…. We are all our own graveyards I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were. If we’re healthy, every day is a celebration, a Day of the Dead, in which we give thanks for the lives that we lived; and if we are neurotic we brood and mourn and wish that the past was still present. Reading these stories over, I feel a little of both. Some of the simple energies that made these words flow through my pen–that made the phrases felicitous and the ideas sing–have gone. I lost their maker a long time ago. These enthusiastic tales are not ashamed of visceral horror, of blood splashing freely across the page: “The Midnight Meat Train,” a grisly subway tale that surprises you with one twist after another; “The Yattering and Jack,” about a hilarious demon who possesses a Christmas turkey; “In the Hills, the Cities,” an unusual example of an original horror premise; “Dread,” a harrowing non-supernatural tale about being forced to realize your worst nightmare; “Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament,” about a woman who kills men with her mind. Some of the tales are more successful than others, but all are distinguished by strikingly beautiful images of evil and destruction. No horror library is complete without them. –Fiona WebsterContents:· Introduction by Ramsey Campbell· The Book of Blood· The Midnight Meat Train· The Yattering and Jack· Pig Blood Blues· Sex, Death and Starshine · In the Hills, the Cities

Some Reviews: 670 in


Amanda rated it      

This is volume one of three volumes that comprise Clive Barker’s The Books of Blood. It consists of 6 short stories. Probably some of the best contemporary horror out there, most assuredly some of the best i’ve ever been acquanted with. Barker is a literary artist when it comes to this genre, as well as fantasy. I know 5 stars is high for a horror collection but within the genre i feel it deserves this rating. This was the sixth book by him i’ve read and i haven’t found a junker among them- they’re all great tales by an excellent storyteller.

The Book of Blood*** this was the shortest and coincidentally my least favorite of the collection. It’s about a paranormal investigation gone wrong.

The Midnight Meat Train*****What a great creepy story, would be even more so for people who live in NYC or another large city with subways, I would imagine, never been on a subway myself. There’s a movie based upon this short story, (I think by the same name) that is really good too. i han’t realized it was based on this until I started reading it and even knowing how it ended, it was still super creepy.

The Yattering and Jack**** A demon,( the Yattering) is sent from Hell to mentally break a man, but it isn’t going like it should. This one’s the lightest of the bunch, comedic in spots.

Pig Blood Blues**** A man comes to work at a detention center for adolescent offenders that is like no other

Sex, Death and Starshine***** A truly creepy story concerning the theatre business and it’s patrons in both present-day and Old Hollywood

In the Hills, The Cities***** I don’t want to give anything away about this one, suffice to say it’s wholly original. :>

Asghar Abbas

Asghar Abbas rated it      

Strongly worded horror, a beautifully written work of its genre about the tragedy of being nonhuman. Scary read. Perfect for October or any other month. Read it. As exquisitely worded as the contents were horrible. Yum. Just delicious.

October read this was, my Samhain fun. The volume was just so entertaining, it was quite something else. Fearless writing coupled with old school words. There were two ways about it. Every story in this volume was so well written and very interesting in concept and execution. I liked how every story in started in such a normal way before Stephen Kinging away. There are two ways about it. You could enjoy the build up as much as when things start to go awry. Thing is even before the horror stuff kicked the stories were so engrossing that I wouldn’t mind seeing them conclude on their own without the horror aspect of it.

All the short stories delivered.

First Lady Of Rainbow Land

First Lady Of Rainbow Land rated it     

I never thought that a horror book published in 1984 would ever outmatch some of the best horror books of the 2010s. It’s far more creepier, horrific and original. Felt like I was trapped in a Barker Horror World, made up entirely from his creations. I mean the Humanoid Giants, the Pig, the Meat Train, should be horror fiction 101 to anyone who would want to write the scariest novel of all time. And Barker did this magnificent work in short stories. I am thrilled and in the same time scared out of my mind.


CasualDebris rated it     

For a review of each story, please visit Casual Debris.

This book not only introduced Clive Barker to the world, but also established his reputation in the realms of horror fiction–a feat for a first book publication. Stephen King’s oft-quoted “the future of horror” blurb was in relation to this little book.

The first in a series of six Books of Blood, the volume includes two lightly humourous tales intermingling with three darker stories, and by far the more effective works are the ones abstaining from humour, which includes in its ranks the introductory framing piece that attempts to unite all these tales of blood.

Compared to most generic horror novels of the eighties and nineties, Barker’s stories are infused with detail pertinent not only to plot but to the overarching ideas that propel the stories. The theatrical “Sex, Death and Starshine” is infused with references to Shakespeare, whereas the more complex “Pig Blood Blues” intertwines the identities of its characters with that of the detention centre in which it is set. Barker certainly placed effort in the literary aspects of the stories, and his work, at least here, is more effective than most mainstream stories that aim only to scare or disturb. The stories are accomplished and there is little surprise that this book had an impact with professional writers of the genre. I own all six books and will certainly complete the series.


Raven rated it     

Revisiting Clive Barker’s lurid, visceral little shorts. I can understand why I was drawn to his writing as a teen, the lush descriptions of sex and violence, the overtly queer themes in some stories (ex: BDSM in Hellraiser)

Highlights: “The Midnight Meat Train” (nicely gory, set in the dirty fluorescent subways of NYC, with an element of eldritch illuminati conspiracy), and “In the Hills, the Cities” (reminded heavily of Midsommar, couple with tense and fraying relationship vacationing in an unknown European area with a village that participates in strange rituals)


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