I tend to be a little strange when it comes to books. When I want to purchase a book my mind will instantly tell me if I should import or buy local. For some reason The Hellbound Heart was lobbed into the latter category, which means I’ve looked for it for years. I finally found it a few weeks ago in a second hand book store and it really was worth the wait.
I‘ll stop you right here. I only have good things to say about this title. In fact I encourage you to go out and purchase it this instant if you enjoy a good horror.
Right, I’ll get on with it.
Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart is the inspiration for the Hellraiser series of films, but don’t mistake the two. Both versions are vastly different and only share the core story. A similar comparison would be Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Blade Runner.
Frank, the antagonist of the novella, is shown to be a pleasure seeker. No matter what he does in life he’s never satisfied, whether these pleasures include a bed full of women, drugs, or other activities. He’s told of a puzzle box that when completed would grant him untold pleasures. He’s both successful in acquiring the box and opening it. Frank’s efforts are greeted by the Cenobites; humanoid demons from a “pleasure” dimension who torture him. Quite a while later his brother, Rory, and his wife, Julia, move into the house. Julia discovers Frank – or what’s left of him – in a spare room and decided to help him reassemble himself. This process requires fresh bodies.
Clive Barker is not only a master of words, but an excellent storyteller as well. It’s been a long time since I read a story this tight and coherent. I really cannot find any fault with the story. Much like the featured puzzle box, everything just fits.
The Hellbound Heart is a brilliant horror, which questions the lengths we would go for both passion and pleasure. I can recommend it to any fan of the genre, or brilliant stories in general.