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Books of Blood, Vols. 1-3 Paperback – October 1, 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we're opened, we're red." For those who only know Clive Barker through his long multigenre novels, this one-volume edition of the Books of Blood is a welcome chance to acquire the 16 remarkable horror short stories with which he kicked off his career. For those who already know these tales, the poignant introduction is a window on the creator's mind. Reflecting back after 14 years, Barker writes:

I look at these pieces and I don't think the man who wrote them is alive in me anymore.... We are all our own graveyards I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were. If we're healthy, every day is a celebration, a Day of the Dead, in which we give thanks for the lives that we lived; and if we are neurotic we brood and mourn and wish that the past was still present.

Reading these stories over, I feel a little of both. Some of the simple energies that made these words flow through my pen--that made the phrases felicitous and the ideas sing--have gone. I lost their maker a long time ago.

These enthusiastic tales are not ashamed of visceral horror, of blood splashing freely across the page: "The Midnight Meat Train," a grisly subway tale that surprises you with one twist after another; "The Yattering and Jack," about a hilarious demon who possesses a Christmas turkey; "In the Hills, the Cities," an unusual example of an original horror premise; "Dread," a harrowing non-supernatural tale about being forced to realize your worst nightmare; "Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament," about a woman who kills men with her mind. Some of the tales are more successful than others, but all are distinguished by strikingly beautiful images of evil and destruction. No horror library is complete without them. --Fiona Webster

From Library Journal

Barker launched his best-selling career in 1984 with the Books of Blood trilogy, which are published together here as a single volume. In addition to the numerous short stories contained in the Books, this edition also sports a new introduction by the author. Bloody good fun.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 507 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; unknown edition (October 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425165582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425165584
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Clive Barker did not want his Books of Blood broken up into individual volumes when they were published, yet that is what happened. Now, the first three volumes are available in one book, serving as the perfect introduction to Barker's unique style of horror. There are some really groundbreaking stories included here, alongside of a dud or two from Volume Two, but each and every story exhibits the genius and originality of its author's dark vision.
The initial offering, The Book of Blood, stands out as a unique ghost story, but it also serves as a provocative abstract for everything Barker sought to accomplish with these stories. After this enticing introductory tale, we head below the streets of New York to sneak a ride on The Midnight Meat Train. This story is vintage Clive Barker, full of blood and gore. Barker isn't trying to drown the reader in blood as a means to hide any lack of skill on his part, though, because the skill is undeniably there for all to see. In The Yattering and Jack, a dark comedy farce, a poor demon does everything he can think of to make the unshakeable Jack miserable, driving himself almost mad in the process. I think of The Yattering and Jack as an amusing sort of Barker bedtime story. Pig Blood Blues forces the casual reader to once again don hip hugger boots for a trek into gore and depravity. At a certain school for wayward boys, the other white meat is not pork. Sex, Death and Starshine is a good story, touching upon the needs of the dead to be entertained every once in a while, but it lacks a certain oomph.
Dread is a somewhat sadistic tale of one man's obsession with death.
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Format: Paperback
Years ago, around '86 or '87 a friend of mine in High School turned me on to a then unknown Englishman by the name of Clive Barker. I was a complete Stephen King junkie at the time and this friend of mine said, dude, you gotta read this guy's stuff...he's un-f*cking-real! I kinda wrinkled my nose and shook my head. Read some no-name's book...pleeze. But I trusted this friend with his opinions and while browsing around one day at a local B. Dalton bookstore I came across a hardcover copy of In The Flesh by Mr. Barker on the under $5.00 table. What the heck. It bought it and read it and....Jeezus! The Forbidden still haunts me to this day. But that small dose of Barker was only the beginning. A few months later I had the luck of finding (on the same under $5.00 table in the same bookstore) a harcover copy of The Books Of Blood. Now, in England, The Books Of Blood were arranged in volumes I through VI by a little outfit called Sphere Ltd, but Stateside, they were broken up into Volumes I through III, The Inhuman Condition, In The Flesh and finally at the end of the novel Cabal. Anyway, I took the book home and started to read the short stories represented there one by one. Astonishing. Nothing I had ever read before would prepare me for what Clive Barker was up to. Never before had I witnessed such abominations, such cruelties, such acts of horrifying and engrossing carnal abberations. He scared me more than a little. Great God, where had this guy come from? Stephen King was praising him on the jacket of every book he printed and rightly so. This guy was the new messiah of the modern horror story. Nowhere had I read such raw, brutal and fresh ideas. Nothing cliche here.Read more ›
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Some books are guideposts, planes upon which your (writing/reading) life refracts, shifts, changes course. Books that have done this for me, not only to my writing/reading life, but to my life: The Shining (King), a collection of poems (e.e. cummings), Generation X (Coupland), The Great Gatsby (FSF), The Hours (Cunningham), Ninety-Two in the Shade (McGuane), A Prayer for the Dying (O'Nan), Winter's Bone (Woodrell). Now: add to this list: Books of Blood, Vols. One to Three (Barker). What a revelation this book was for me. It came out in 1984. I love horror. I'm a Constant Reader of (mostly vintage) King. But I just finally got around to reading this. Wow and wow. Deeply affecting stories, superbly written. Not flawless, no. No such thing, and for risk-taking stories like these, there's no way one can limn to the standard of flawless. Barker is known for films to the general public. However, these stories got him started and they are brilliant. The writing is sublime. He has such a lovely touch, though maybe sometimes he could dial it back a bit, cut a bit more. But I'm not complaining. There are many point-of-view shifts mid-story, even mid-scene, but Barker's so talented, he doesn't jar you out of the story with it--you find yourself going with it and shaking your head in awe.

All of these long-to-novella-length stories are quality. Of course, some work better than others. None are weak. The ones that really pierced deepest: "Pig Blood Blues" - my favorite; just scary and resonant and so well-written and executed. "In the Hills, the Cities" - this story, a not exactly subtle allegory about collectivism and The State, got to me in such a way that I had to put it down as I read into the night, needing the sober light of day to get me through. Truly creeped me out.
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