[caption id="" align="alignright" width="187"] Cover of The Hellbound Heart[/caption]
It's not a secret - I've never been enthralled with the movie "Hellraiser". I don't know what it is about it, though I have a sinking suspicion that I didn't understand it at the time. It came out when I was very little, and I think that overall it was just over my head. In any event, I ran into a mention of The Hellbound Heart, the novella that started it all, somewhere online this past week. My interest was sparked, and I headed over to my local Barnes & Noble to track down a paperback copy of the popular work by author Clive Barker. At a whopping 164 pages, I really wasn't expecting very much. I got more than I was expecting!
I started reading the book as soon as I got home from work, and before I knew it, was already on page 35! The story of Rory and his wife Julia, Rory's brother Frank, and the love-lorn Kirsty Cotton was too exciting to put down. I understand why Barker's book was only 164 pages - he doesn't bother wasting the reader's time with extraneous character descriptions. He lets their actions speak for themselves. And by do they ever! I found myself hating and pitying the characters in equal measure.
Clive Barker is truly a master storyteller. As he draws the reader in, the pages begin to fly by with a life of their own. Soon, the character's struggles become as real as the book in the reader's hands. And what struggles!
Who is "the hellbound heart"? I'm not sure even Barker can properly say. Is it the adulterous lover? The foolish husband? The libertine? The shy, lovestruck bystander? The macabre Cenobites themselves? I believe it is one and all, to a certain degree. Each one of the characters experiences their own personal hell and filled with their own personal brand of misery.
Whether or not you are a fan of the Hellrasier movie franchise, I strongly urge you to pick up this quick and engaging read from Clive Barker. I've never read a book that was more simultaneously sad and horrifying. I promise, you won't be disappointed!