Review: “The Hellbound Heart” by Clive Barker (1986)

Most people know the Hellraiser movie series was based on a novella by Clive Barker, and of course, this is that novella. It was originally released in 1986, and the Hellraiser franchise started in 1987. I first read “The Hellbound Heart” back in the late eighties, as the movies led me to Barker’s work, and I definitely went on a binge with his “Books of Blood” series and have loved most of his work since.

With that in mind, I wanted to see if, thirty years later, Barker’s work still held up well considering the emergence of extreme and splatterpunk horror. Without a doubt, it does. It’s not as “in your face” as some authors such as Edward Lee, but Barker has always teetered on that fence between nuance and explicit prose. As a side note, this isn’t a denigration of Lee’s work, as I love it too.

The gist of the story is actually very close to that of the movie, rather the movie is very close to the book, with just some minor details differing. It was interesting how vague Barker is with the appearance of the Cenobites, and I have to wonder how I would have pictured them had I not seen the first movie before reading “The Hellbound Heart”.

As a side note, it was the movie series that gave “Pinhead” his name, as in the books he’s simply known as a priest. A year or so ago, I read “The Scarlet Gospels” in paperback, which is the swan song for Pinhead, and I had to laugh at how Barker included a nod to the movies, in that the character despised that nickname. 🙂

Bottom line is, if you like Barker but haven’t read this, why not? 🙂 And if you like more raw, brutal horror, whether a fan of the Hellraiser movies or not, you should definitely check this book out. It’s thoroughly enjoyable and, as I noted before, really stands up over time.

If you want to pick up the book, it’s available all over, such as on Amazon and countless other sites.

Rating: Five Starts (Out Of Five Possible)

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