Over many years and many books, Clive Barker has earned a reputation as the thinking person's horror writer. His novels have mixed fantasy, psychology, and sheer creepiness in almost equal quantities, and while the gore quotient remains relatively low, the tension always runs high. In Galilee
, however, Barker soft-pedals the ghoulish in favor of the gothic. His novel (or as the author would have it, "romance") tells the tale of two warring families caught up in a disastrous web of corruption, illicit sexuality, and star-crossed love, with a soupçon of the supernatural thrown in as well. On one side are the wealthy Gearys--a fictional stand-in for the Kennedys--and on the other are the Barbarossas, a mysterious black clan that has been around since the time (quite literally) of Adam. Galilee
chronicles the twisted course of this centuries-old family feud, which centers around the magical Barbarossa matriarch Cesaria and her son Galilee. Indeed, it's the latter figure--one part Heathcliff to one part Christ--whose relationship with the Geary women sets a match to the entire powder keg of hostility and resentment. Mixing standard clichés of romance with his own peculiarly deep-fried version of the Southern gothic, Baker has come up with an intelligent and shamelessly amusing potboiler.
From Publishers Weekly
A family saga isn't what we'd expect from Barker (Sacrament), the most ambitious dark fantasist of our time, but that's what he delivers in his most elegant, and most conventional, novel yet. A Barker family saga is perforce unlike othersAand so not only are two entwined families chronicled here but one, the Barbarossas, descends from voracious divinities, "two souls as old as heaven"; the other, the Gearys, are modeled roughly on the Kennedys. The story, an intricate mosaic of first-person and third, is narrated by the reclusive Maddox Barbarossa as a history he writes in the family manse hidden in the Virginia woods and designed long ago by Thomas Jefferson, one of his divine stepmother's countless lovers. Its canvas stretches from New York to Hawaii to the Middle East, from the "ancient day" when Maddox's half-brother, Galilee, was baptized through the American Civil WarAduring which Galilee joins forces with the impoverished Southern founder of the Geary dynasty, whose cruelty and greed ensures the Gearys' immense wealth and power. Most of the story rests in the present, however, concentrating on the newest Geary, n?e Rachel Pallenberg, who marries a callow Geary scion only to witness the outbreak of "war" between the Gearys and Barbarossas and to become the latest Geary woman to fall under the spell of the near-immortal, sexually mesmerizing Galilee. The novel's scale is smaller than that of previous Barker effortsAmissing are the titanic battles of form vs. chaos, good vs. evil, the riot of wonders and terrors. But it's less cluttered, too, despite abundant inspiration and invention and satisfying smatterings of Barker-brand sex, scatology and violence. Above all, there is a new richness of character, of its warpings and transfigurations by hatred and love, blood legacy and death. $150,000 ad/promo; simultaneous HarperAudio; author tour; U.K., translation, dramatic rights: Clive Barker.
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