The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

A simple, yet eloquent novella.
The Hellbound Heart book cover

A simple, yet eloquent novella, which spawned one of Barker's best known creations: Pinhead and the world of Hellraiser.

The story follows Frank, who longs for pleasure. Tired of the thrills that women and drugs have to offer, Frank turns to Lemmarchand's box; a simple looking wooden puzzle, which once solved summons the Cenobites. The Cenobites are creatures from another dimension in search of pleasures of the flesh; however their definition of pleasure is quite different form ours.

Frank finds himself trapped in the realm of the Cenobites, receiving pleasure. That is until he finds a way out via his sister in-law, Julia. Julia longs for Frank as she grows ever tired of her husband Rory. Frank has a very loose grip on our world, but can make it back if he can feed on enough blood.

Julia proceeds to feed her lost lover.

Barker uses simple, evocative language to weave this tale of lust, fear and pleasure. The beauty of this book is summed up in its economy, there is no scene wasted, everything which doesn't strictly serve the narrative is stripped back. This does, as a result, make for quite a short and swift read (a tad over 120 pages); however this is no indication of quality. Barker has focused on plot, forgoing character development and world building to a large extent; this makes for a book which is a simple and pure story, leaving the reader to create more for themselves.

The Hellbound Heart has much to offer Barker fans and novices like, the concepts explored and the manner they are portrayed make for a captivating read. Also worthwhile for those who enjoyed the Hellraiser films, to see the conception of Pinhead.

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