- Hardcover: 447 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (July 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 006017949X
- ISBN-13: 978-0394571096
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 59 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #765,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sacrament Hardcover – July 1, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
A giant of horror strides toward mainstream fiction in this awesome but skewed novel. Not that Barker (Everville, etc.) has forsaken the fantastic and outre; but here, the premier metaphysician of dark fantasy mutes his usually riotous imagery, placing it in the service of an elegy for the natural world. He also creates his first proudly gay hero, Will Rabjohns, celebrated for his photographs of endangered species. Will's profession, as well as his sojourns in San Francisco's gay community, reflect the themes of the novel?creation and, above all, extinction, both of animals and of humans, especially of gay men through AIDS. The story opens with Will being mauled by a polar bear and plunging into a coma from which he recalls his boyhood in England. In flashback, Will meets Steep, a gaunt, inhuman creature clad in human form, and Steep's lethal, lamia-like partner, Rosa. Steep's passion is to snuff species into extinction; his mate's, to give birth to her and Steep's progeny. Awakening from his coma, Will travels to S.F., then to England for an apocalyptic climax at a hovel inhabited by lost species and souls. Barker's prose is as fertile as always, and his characters are rubbed raw with life and death; but the story line lacks the narrative urgency and grand arcs of his other works. The symbolism can be strained at times. Likewise, despite the thematic paste, the gay and fantasy elements don't bond well, though both provoke moments of breathtaking drama. Even in this fractured tale, Barker presents an astonishing array of ideas, visions and epiphanies; but they're seen as if through a glass beveled and crazed. $175,000 ad/promo; simultaneous HarperAudio; dramatic rights: Sterling Lord Literistic; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Barker, known for his literate, imaginative dark fantasy (Incarnations, HarperCollins, 1995), tries his hand at more mainstream work here. Brilliant, gay wildlife photographer Will has spent his career chronicling death?something he doesn't dwell on until an accident sends him into a coma. During his physical stasis, Will's mind explores the past, and he relives his life-altering meeting with the inhuman Joseph Steep. Steep taught Will the pleasures of causing death. Will lives Steep's memories and sees things that weren't intended to be remembered, which shapes the next 30 years of his life. But the eyes of an adult see differently from those of a child. Will awakens to new purpose: to uncover or perhaps recover a powerful artifact. Sacrament is not as inventive or all-encompassing as Imajica (HarperCollins, 1991) or The Great and Secret Show (LJ 1/90), but it should appeal to both established Barker fans and a more general audience.
-?Jodi L. Israel, Westwood, Mass
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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This book is quite a bit different. There are fantastical elements present, to be sure, but the balance between the elements of our own reality and the fantastical is more heavily weighted to our reality than typical Barker fare. The balance was perfect for me.
More much important, though, is that I greatly enjoyed the story. It's less about otherworldly monsters or demons, and much more about the human condition. I first read this book ten years ago and devoured most of it in a single six-hour bus ride. I'm re-reading it right now, and I'm enjoying even more now than I did a decade ago.
It's a great read. If you're a fan of the likes of Stephen King, and you're looking to strike out and sample some other horror fiction, this is the Clive Barker book to start with.
I always enjoy his work and Sacrament didn't disappoint.