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The Damnation Game Mass Market Paperback – November 5, 2002

154 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

"I have seen the future of the horror genre, and his name is Clive Barker," Stephen King has written. Fortunately, this first novel (Barker has published short story collections) more than bears the weight of King's praise. Barker is a better writer than King, and his characters are just as interesting. Set in modern Britain, the story thrusts a flawed "innocent"parolee Marty Straussinto an epic conflict between wealthy Joseph Whitehead and Mamoulian the Cardplayer, a centuries-old creature with whom Whitehead had struck a bargain to obtain his wealth and power. Whitehead reneges, and the resulting struggle is played out primarily on his fortress-like estate. Barker's excellent writing makes the graphic, grotesque imagery endemic to current horror fiction very effective. Highly recommended anywhere horror fiction is popular. A.J. Wright, Anesthesiology Dept., Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“A deliciously scary tale...Barker’s brilliantly literary work has raised horror to a level of excellence it has rarely reached before.” —Whitley Streiber


“One of the best horror novels in a very long not miss it!” —USA Today


“Original and memorable...engrossing...disturbing...Horror mavens who enjoy violence and harrowing imagery will find plenty of both here. But there is more to The Damnation Game than gore. This story of a supernaturally powerful man who can resurrect the dead probes the many varieties of corruption.” —Publishers Weekly


“Remarkably powerful...Barker has created a truly legendary monster. In pure descriptive power there is no one writing horror fiction now who can match him.”—The Washington Post


“Wonderful, moving and apocalyptic. Death and damnation hang at the end of every chapter. Barker makes us squirm.” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer


“Will fry your eyes off! Keep the lights on.” —Larry King


“A masterly novel...a thrill a minute.” —Chicago Sun-Times


“A tour de force of gruesome supernatural horror...startling, hard-hitting, graphic...brilliantly executed.” —Fantasy Review


“A horrifying thriller.” —The Wall Street Journal


“A gripping tale of hideous evil.” —New York Daily News


“Will hold you in its spell. Barker has a keen knack for ripping the skin off every detail and exposing the horrors lurking just below the surface...Captivating and original.” —South Herald Tribune


“Shattering...A full scale, hair-raising assault on the imagination.” —Anniston Star

“A writer of stunning imagination...With his artist’s eye for detail, Barker instills a mythic quality into his vision of hell.” —The Atlanta Journal & Constitution

“The most literate and disturbing horror novel I have ever read. This is the place that nightmares are spawned—read it at your own peril, but read it you must!”—



“A powerful, thrilling novel that provokes the imagination and raises the blood pressure.” —The Orlando Sentinel


“Frightening...Scalpel-clean prose and wild inventiveness.” —Kirkus Reviews


“Powerful...original...Barker’s horror is elegant enough that one can admire it as a kind of hellish choreography, with the characters all dancing to his phantasmagorical tune.” —New York Newsday


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (November 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425188930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425188934
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #512,660 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

60 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Plaque on March 24, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One thing is always true about Clive Barker's novels: He will disturb you.
"The Damnation Game" was my first experience with Barker, and is the first I've decided to read again. The surreal horrors conjured within these pages leaves me breathless. This novel delivers all the terror and stomach-turning prose that made Clive famous. The usual glurge from Stephen King about Barker being "the future of horror" adorns the cover, and King is right on the mark. However, be warned that Barker is NOT the future Stephen King; Barker is too unique to be sold as a contemporary author.
This novel features four key characters, and a wide assortment of supporting cast members. We have Mamoulian, also known as the Last European, the central antagonist of this tale. Also enter Joseph Whitehead, the thief, whom we come to know as the wealthy gambler / businessman who acquired his fortune through his MISfortune of dealing with a devil, aka Mamoulian. Martin Strauss, a convict who is living out his parole status on the Whitehead estate, is the newly acquired bodyguard of Whitehead. He is the lead in this tale, and the most likeable character out of a cast of unlikables. Carys, Whitehead's daughter, also lives on the estate, supplied with a never ending stock of heroin to keep her "happy" in Whitehead's home.
Mamoulian and Whitehead are old friends... or at least there is honor among these two thieves. Mamoulian is an ages-old gambler, and with a deal of the cards has ensnared Whitehead's soul. Whitehead has been enormously successful over the years since his deal with Mamoulian, but now it is time to settle old debts. Strauss is there for Whitehead's protection, but Strauss is revealed to be a gambler in his own right...
Barker makes readers squirm.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 30, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
To say that this book is good would be a terrible understatement to not only Clive Barker,but also to the Horror genre in the world today. The Damnation Game combines all the elements of a great story: Horror (Vile, Stomach-turning details), Passion, Disturbing visions, Fantasy, and most important, Imagination. I've been a Clive Barker fan for a little over a year, reading The Books of Blood, Sacrament, Galilee, The Great and Secret Show, and The Inhuman Condition, and with the exception of The Books of Blood, I think that this is one of his greatest books to date. Barker's imagery and details were so real that I would shiver and sometimes have to stop reading for a minute or two so I could try to banish that certain vision or image from my thoughts. But, all along, the story was interesting, and very compelling to read. This book will have you at the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next, and who these people really are...and you won't be disappointed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 22, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like many people I checked out Clive Barker because Stephen King had said "I have seen the future of the horror genre, and its is named Clive Barker." That was a good enough recommendation for me, and I picked up "The Damnation Game," which was Barker's first novel. Part One of the novel, "Terra Incognita," takes place in the ruined city of Warsaw during World War II where a thief dares to challenge Mamoulian the Cardplayer, the dark champion of life's darkest and most game. Apparently the game went well for the nameless thief, for when we jump to the "present" in Part Two, "Asylum," we meet millionaire Joseph Whitehead, one of the richest men in Europe, who is now locked up in the fortress he has built himself. Paroled from prison, Marty Strauss becomes Whitehead's bodyguard. Down on his luck for so long that he thinks things are finally breaking his way, but Marty has no idea what he has signed on for with this job. The final key member of the cast is Carys Whitehead, a heroin addict who cares about nothing but staying high and letting daddy foot the bill.

We understand that Whitehead is going to have to pay the piper for his wealth and power, and he has every reason to be terrified of what is going to happen to him when Mamoulian settles all accounts on behalf of his employer. Of course now we can see some foreshadowing of "Hellraiser" in the idea of playing a deadly game, but it would be a mistake to think we are talking about pro-Cenobites in "The Damnation Game." Besides, Marty has more going for him than simply the luck of being the narrative's hero, and that becomes part of the book's final equation.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Walt Haywood on March 24, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Damnation game is a roller coaster of terror. It contains some of Barker's most disturbing visions. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a millionare tycoon with the world at your feet? Who hasn't, but Barker puts a new spin on this old fantasy. Here the promise of power and riches comes with a terrible price and at a tremendous risk, yet the promise is real for those who dare to play the damnation game. After the close of WW2, in the fog shrouded rubble, Europe is a nightmare. In this blasted place there are no rules and no rulers. In this horrible setting one man, a thief has come to test his considerable skills against the master of life's darkest game. Years later another thief is released from prison and has been enlisted to serve an old dying man. This is no ordinary elderly man for he is one of the richest men on earth and the price of his wealth is about to come calling. Containing one of the vilest villians in literary history, the Damnation Game is a ghoulish feast for the senses.
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