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Abarat Hardcover – October 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Abarat, accomplished novelist and artist Clive Barker turns his considerable talents to creating a rich fantasy world for young adults.

Candy Quackenbush is growing up in Chickentown, Minnesota, yearning for more--which she finds, quite unexpectedly, when a man with eight heads appears from nowhere in the middle of the prairie, being chased by something really monstrous. And so begins Candy's epic adventure to the islands of the Abarat. Peopled by all manner of creatures, cultures, and customs, the islands should prove a fertile setting for the series that Barker is calling The Books of Abarat. Candy is an intelligent and likable heroine, and the many supporting characters are deftly drawn, both in words and in the full-color interior art that Barker has produced to give the story an extra dimension.

Abarat delivers the rich and imaginative storytelling that Barker is known for, with less overt horror or violence than one of his adult novels might include. However, Candy's path isn't an easy one, and young adult readers should appreciate the hard choices she must make along the way. --Roz Genessee

From Publishers Weekly

Like The Thief of Always, Barker's first book for children, this tale finds a bored protagonist venturing into a fantastical world. The novel begins with a rather cryptic scene of three women on a "perilous voyage... [emerging] from the shelter of the islands." The action then shifts to Candy Quackenbush of Chickentown, Minn., who hates her life as the daughter of an alcoholic father and a depressed mother. One day, humiliated by her teacher, Candy skips out of school and heads for the prairie, where she stumbles on a derelict lighthouse and a creature with eight heads, John Mischief. The opening scene and the thrust of the novel gradually connect, as Candy begins an adventure to a mysterious archipelago called Abarat. Skilled at fantasy, Barker throws plenty of thrills and chills at readers. Candy becomes a pawn between Mischief and the man (Christopher Carrion, "Lord of Midnight") from whom Mischief has stolen something of great value. However, by the middle of the novel, readers may feel that Barker pulls out too many stops; he floods the pages with scores of intriguing characters and a surfeit of subplots (some of which dead-end, perhaps to be picked up in one of the three planned sequels). The author's imagination runs wild as he conjures some striking imagery ("Dark threads of energy moved through her veins and leaped from her fingertips" says one of the three women in the opening scene) and cooks up a surreal stew of character portraits (rendered in bold colors and brushwork, they resemble some of Van Gogh's later work). But much of the novel feels like a wind-up for the books to follow and, after this rather unwieldy 400-page ride, readers my be disappointed by so many unresolved strands of the plot. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Abarat
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060280921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060280925
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (285 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #444,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Clive Barker was born in Liverpool in 1952. He is the worldwide bestselling author of the Books of Blood, and numerous novels including Imajica, The Great and Secret Show, Sacrament and Galilee. In addition to his work as a novelist and short story writer he also illustrates, writes, directs and produces for the stage and screen. His films include Hellraiser, Hellbound, Nightbreed and Candyman. Clive lives in Beverly Hills, California.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By C. Fletcher on May 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
ABARAT is Clive Barker's best and most consistent book in quite some time. As with Barker's previous children's book, THE THIEF OF ALWAYS (which he wrote long before the Harry Potter craze), there's a simple purity about ABARAT that makes for a truly riveting and satisfying reading experience.

The first in a planned quartet of self-illustrated children's books, Clive Barker's ABARAT tells the story of Candy Quackenbush, a young girl from a conservative Midwestern town who finds herself drawn through an oceanic portal into an alternative world called the Abarat. The Abarat is actually an archipelago of twenty five islands (one for each hour of the day, and another existing outside of time). As she travels from island to island, the precociously independent Candy makes many strange humanoid and not-so-humanoid friends and not a few horrible enemies. Chief among her foes is Christopher Carrion, the Lord of the isle of Midnight, whose powers include the ability to make nightmares real.
This lavishly illustrated volumes is beautiful to look at and is also a pleasure to read. Barker's imagination is in top fertile form. There are no missed steps or idle meanderings as there have been in some of Barker's recent efforts. This is a great book for all ages, and for all kinds of readers. A great celebration of the imagination.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jude River N. Allan on February 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is good. However, it is hugely lost in this format because none of the beautiful images created for this story are included. There's well over 100 images in the book that are not in the kindle version Buy a hard copy. It's worth it.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By J.A. VINE VOICE on November 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Abarat certainly is an amazing creation.

While reading the book, I was swept away by the brilliance of the dark and powerful artwork that Barker created. The interior art gave the book a texture and feeling that it would have lacked otherwise, much like John R. Neill's artwork added layers to Baum's (and others) Oz books.

Candy Quackenbush is a fairly normal, average girl. I was pleased to see this, because far too often we find authors creating unfashionable, socially inept, or withdrawn characters that they want us to feel sympathy for. There's a good reason that many authors seek to do that - there's *nothing* like rooting for the underdog. Granted, there is a scene of embarrassment in the very beginning of the book, but Candy's reaction to the embarrassment isn't to go off and cry about it - she takes matters into her own hands. So what we are left with is feeling proud of her, and that is what authors should strive for. The characters on the page need to create some form of powerful emotion within us, and it doesn't always need to be pity.

Her own hands - and her feet - lead her to a field with a dilapidated lighthouse where she meets one of the most original and odd characters I've ever come across in children's, young adult, or adult fantasy - the John brothers. And then immediately the story kicks into overdrive, as Mendelson Shape, a creature out of nightmares, assails them, looking to retrieve something that the John brothers have stolen. Through an act of heroism, Candy calls a sea to the plains of Minnesota - the Sea of Izabella, and the sea transports her and the John brothers to the Abarat, an astonishing archipelago of dizzying diversity.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By dizzyweasel VINE VOICE on September 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The revised edition has no artwork (and the artwork plays a big part in this series). Get a version with artwork. I'm returning this one.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you liked Harry Potter, then you will love Abarat. This is the first book that I've read by Clive Barker. Now I want to read all his books if they are as good as this one. As soon as I opened the book, I was immediately taken with this wonderful story told by Clive Barker. It's about a young girl named Candy, who deep inside wants more than what her life is offering. Her home life is not going well, and she isn't treated very well at school by her classmates or her teacher. Not being able to take it anymore, she runs away from school and just starts walking as far away from Chickentown as she can. She ends up in this field right outside of town where she meets a strange creature with many heads which she befriends. She helps him return to his world Abarat, so he ends up taking her with him. They get separated at the beginning of the story. So Candy is left by herself, but she meets new creatures along the way. She knows that she has a purpose in Abarat, she feels that she has been there before. During the story, The Prince of Midnight finds out she is there and is desperately trying to find Candy. He wants to make her his. His obsession of her grows strong, and this leads to others trying to capture her. This story can get really strange, but I loved it. I like when I'm reading a book and it takes me to that world. I would definately recommend this book to anyone. Also, I heard that Abarat the movie will be coming out in a couple of years. I know I cant wait to see it, and after you have read this book, you wont be able to wait either!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Azme on March 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
You can tell from the other reviews what this book is about, but Abarat is the most creative, wonderful book written since the twenties rolled out The Lord of the Rings-- at true epic! If some adults would consent to read it, they would instantly know that this is not the "kid's book" everyone is calling it. In fact, it could be called a much more sophisticated version of the Phantom Tollbooth, but with much more of an interesting plot and loveable characters. I found myself even being able to get in the minds of the evil characters. Everyone of Barker's characters has a purpose, feelings of love and hate, and are NEW! I've heard many people praise the inventive names of Harry Potter (which,after reading Abarat, suddenly seems boring), but names are a grain of pepper next to the importance of colourful characters... which in fantasy lately, ONLY barker has pulled off.
The ending seemed unsatisfying until I realized Abarat is part of a series. An ending that gives away none of the secrets that are hinted throughout the book is an excellent ending for a series. I can't wait until next year for the second book to appear... and I am so frustrated by the lack of information on these books! The whole world should have the heads ducked behind the delightful purple cover and silky pages of this book ASAP!
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