The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker
The Scarlet Gospels takes readers back many years to the early days of two of Barker’s most iconic characters in a battle of good and evil as old as time: The long-beleaguered detective Harry D’Amour, investigator of all supernatural, magical, and malevolent crimes faces off against his formidable, and intensely evil rival, Pinhead, the priest of hell. Barker devotees have been waiting for The Scarlet Gospels with bated breath for years, and it’s everything they’ve begged for and more. Bloody, terrifying, and brilliantly complex, fans and newcomers alike will not be disappointed by the epic, visionary tale that is The Scarlet Gospels. Barker’s horror will make your worst nightmares seem like bedtime stories. The Gospels are coming. Are you ready?
“I think Clive Barker is so good that I am literally tongue-tied. He makes the rest of us look like we’ve been asleep for the past ten years.” ―Stephen King
“A powerful and fascinating writer with a brilliant imagination… an outstanding storyteller” ―JG Ballard
“To call Clive Barker a ‘horror novelist’ would be like calling the Beatles a ‘garage band’… He is the great imaginer of our time. He knows not only our greatest fears, but also what delights us, what turns us on, and what is truly holy in the world. Haunting, bizarre, beautiful.” ―Quentin Tarantino
About the Author
CLIVE BARKER is a legendary author, filmmaker, and visual artist. His acumen as a horror writer has been praised as some of the most influential to pop culture in recent times. Stephen King hailed Barker as “the future of horror.” His Books of Blood series and his novella The Hellbound Heart which inspired the Hellraiser movies have amassed a global cult following and cemented their place in pop culture history. The Scarlet Gospels marks Barker’s return to horror fiction.
Review By George Anderson
It is difficult to comprehend how much of a disappointment Clive Barker’s latest work is. He is one of the main reasons why I became so enamoured of horror fiction back in the late 1980s with his wonderfully wrought stories and their evocative imagery and language. His seminal “Books of Blood” and books like “Weaveworld”, “Imajica” and “The Great and Secret Show” are amongst some of the best works of modern speculative fiction.
When “The Scarlet Gospels” was first announced almost a decade ago it was talked up as a grand sweeping epic taking in the history of the Cenobites, Harry D’Amour, the fall of Hell and Pinhead as usurper. The infrequent noises that emerged over the intervening period indicated a grandiose and richly detailed work in progress. What we have on arrival appears to be a book that echoes what I currently feel after reading it, gutted. The narrative skips along quickly as Pinhead assassinates the world’s magicians to gain their collective knowledge and challenges Lucifer for a new order. However it feels like huge chunks of connective tissue like back story and characterization have been flensed from the bones of the story. What you are left with is a very lean book in terms of story and characterization that I found difficult to engage with or more importantly, enjoy.
The book features a return match between Harry D’Amour and The Hell Priest (Pinhead to you and me, he isn’t so fond of it) as the latter attempts to gain the power to overthrow and replace Lucifer who has been an absent presence in Hell for Millennia. There are still elements of the old Barker writing that I love that make you make you go “WOW” such as the prologue but for me, most of the dreamlike and evocative imagery and ideas that his writing has had seem to be absent. However, considering what Barker has gone through recently I shouldn’t be that much surprised at the tone of the book. It does feel like a very raw, brutal and angry book as The Hell Priest slaughters his way through Hell’s amassed ranks. Maybe that is perhaps a bit too subjective and opinionated but it certainly does feel a very direct and straight to the heart of the matter type of book with no real breaks in pace.
I don’t know. It is a strange one reading this as I am kind of 50/50 on its’ merits. There are parts that are good but then there are other bits that are not so good. And then there are just these…well…gaps where you instinctively know something was edited out. Overall, I would have to say it is okay. Other people will think this is great and fair play, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. For me however, it just didn’t engage, enthral or hook me as much as previous Barker books. Yeah, i’m disappointed!