I chanced upon a gorgeous hardcover Clive Barker book this week at the Oxfam used book store and today I have decided I will read and dissect it and write down all my thoughts as I go because I’m not sure I can find the time to write a review any other way. (Note from future Nikki: turns out this is both hilarious and fun. New habit? I hope so.)
And oh hey, this is my first official review for the #RIPXII fall horror reading event. Woop woop.
And so it begins…
First line: “Burn this book.” The next several pages are telling me to PLEASE put this book down. It will hurt me. It will drive me mad. I can hardly imagine that it will be able to live up to the build up it is creating. He just keeps banging on about this. Jesus, Barker, tone it down, I’m not going to burn the fucking book, enough.
I find it hard to swallow the idea that demons are born and have parents and mothers and live in dysfunctional hetero nuclear family units. Why would a demon child let its father beat it? Demon children are still demons. Demon child should fuck up his wife-beating, daughter-beating, evil, drunk mother fucker of a demon father. This makes no sense.
What the fuck, mom demon just punished son demon because she found his journals, and they are full of all the horrible, violent things he wants to do to all the people who throw stones at him and make fun of him. I THOUGHT THESE WERE DEMONS. Suspension of disbelief fail. Not sure whether to call this “utter shit” or “utter cheese.” Either way.
So the demon is trapped in the book. He keeps asking me to burn it, and now I can’t help but think that is what will set him free. Fuck you, demon, only Nazis burn books.
I like the idea that I’m reading a book with a demon trapped between the lines. Conceptually, it sounds fun. But I’m still not into the world building number Barker has done on Hell. Demon mother takes beatings, takes all sorts of bullshit from her demon husband? Come on. No fucking way. That just seems like regular world misogyny creeping into the story, doesn’t it?
Demon’s biography is booo-oooring. Oooh, now he’s discussing the fact that humans are cruel and brutal and violent and horrific as fuck, and I find myself asking, does this book have something to say after all?
Holy shit I just read the book’s summary on Goodreads (procrastination break), and apparently a large part of the book is set in Mainz, Germany, where I lived for four years and go all the time. This pleases me, though it is objectively irrelevant.
Oh no! Now I’ve gone and read several reviews on Goodreads, and everyone thinks this book is utter shit and a waste of time and what have I done?
By the way, I don’t feel scared yet. Or disgusted. The sentence-level writing is pleasant, however, and I have admired a number of gruesome sentences for their content and construction. So there’s that.
I’m beginning to think this book is more gimmick than substance. What with its “Oh please burn me!” framework and its fancy-schmancy fake old-looking paper. I’m starting to regret having paid even the measly four euros I shelled out for it.
Feeling pretty meh about the kind of roles women are being given in this book. Sad, defeated, beaten- up wives. Hags. Objects of love. Unwilling lovers who are then revenge maimed. Victims of every stripe. Only kind of woman there is, apparently.
Also, how the fuck can this demon dude, who was terrifically, grievously burned in chapter one, manage to walk around without intense pain, manage to kiss someone even, when he has told us that in the present his face still weeps puss from the wounds he has just sustained? It is the small inconsistencies that end up destroying an entire world. Fiction can only stand when it’s propped up on a hell of a lot of fact. (Or at the very least, has an internal consistency to its fictions.)
Magic sword wtf?
Quitoon is a dumb name. So is Jakabok. Actually, so are almost all of the names in this book.
I am no longer enjoying myself. I am trying to focus on what I can learn from this book’s mistakes, and from the more successful sentences. It is all that is keeping me reading.
A book this bad should not repeatedly demand I throw it in the fire when I am sitting next to a crackling wood stove. The temptation is great, and growing.
“I’m burned out, so to speak. I’ve got nothing left,” the demon writing this story tells us. Clive’s confession, I reckon. True fucking that, Clive, true fucking that.
Maybe a teenager discovering horror for the first time would enjoy this?
That fire in the wood stove sure looks like it could use some fuel.
Maybe I should check Instagram. Blarg! Nikki, for fuck’s sake, concentrate.
WAIT. No. NO. Stop right fucking there. Fuck this shit. I am not putting myself through another 150 pages of this. I’m skipping right to the end. No more self flagellation.
Sweet VALIS, the book is still begging me to burn it. *eye roll* Oh look, the demon is insulting me now because yeah, I still haven’t burned his stupid fucking book, and I’m sitting here wondering if Clive Barker had some serious beef with his readers that he’s exercising via this dumb fucking Jakabok dude. This whole thing feels like a practical joke.
Pages 242-245 are really good.
Oh my god the book ends with a plea to give it to someone I hate so they can share the pain I’ve experienced reading, I’m DYING I’M DYING AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Points for the level of meta on that. Shit, now no matter what I do with this fucking book Clive Barker wins. Well played sir, even if I highly disliked your book, well played…