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Books of Blood: Vol 3, by Clive Barker Book Review | SFReader.com
Books of Blood: Vol 3, by Clive Barker Genre: Horror Anthology Publisher: Penguin Published: 1991 Review Posted: 10/19/2006 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
Books of Blood: Vol 3, by Clive Barker
Book Review by Jeff Edwards
Have you read this book?
Clive Barker proves that you can't keep a good corpse down in Books of Blood: Volume Three.
In the collection's opening story, "Son of Celluloid," a criminal dies in a forgotten crawlspace at the back
of an old movie theater, but the cancer within him survives. Realizing that residual energy from "the
electric stares of...half a century of movie-goers" isn't enough to sustain it, the thing begins feeding on the
audience members themselves. Partially successful as a biting commentary on the deification of silver
screen legends and the double-edged sword of celebrity, the tale ultimately deteriorates into a game of
hide-and-seek littered with puns: "'Here's looking at you, kid.' An eye, a single vast eye, was filling the
Barker directs that same morbid sense of humor at the familiar notion of sheet-covered ghosts in
"Confessions of a (Pornographer's) Shroud": When an honest yet greedy accountant is tortured and
murdered, his spirit finds a way to live on by possessing the shroud covering his body in the morgue.
Despite the cartoon-like image of a piece of cloth attacking a man, the author manages some gruesome
descriptions: "He doubled up as the disemboweling began, feeling his viscera surge up his throat, turning
him inside out."
"Scape-goats" is a far more subtle tale, rippling with an undercurrent of unease. After their boat runs
aground, two young couples find a few penned-up sheep on an otherwise uninhabited island, and the
boat's captain kills one of the animals in a drunken rage. Too late, his friends learn that the uncharted
body of land is more burial mound than island - and the sheep were supposed to be offerings to the
An ancient statue demands offerings of another sort in "Human Remains." In the story, a kind of psychotic
Pinocchio vows to live through sheer force of will - and plenty of blood-baths. As the statue grows
stronger and more "human," it transforms itself like a doppelganger, and the man being copied fears for
his life - with good reason: "When it's perfected its physical imitation,...it'll steal the one thing it can't
imitate: your soul."
Barker wanders into Lovecraftian territory with "Rawhead Rex," in which a forgotten evil is unleashed to
wreak havoc on an unsuspecting town. Here, though, the man who releases the monster isn't a typical
Lovecraft character seeking forbidden knowledge: He's just a farmer trying to clear his field. This is
Barker's most intense work since "The Midnight Meat Train" in Volume One; readers will cringe as
Rawhead, a nine-foot-tall creature with a taste for "child-meat," devours a little girl in front of her helpless
mother: "She saw Amelia's tear-stained face, doll-stiff, being fed between those rows of teeth."
Although Clive Barker went on to write epic-sized novels, some fans would argue that the author's twisted
visions were best distilled in his early story collections. For those readers - and for those who have never
experienced Barker's short fiction - the Books of Blood are waiting patiently in the dark.
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