Monday, October 26, 2009

Hellbound Hearts: Part I

Edited by Paul Kane and Marie O’Regan

Twenty-one Tales Inspired by Clive Barker’s Hellraising Universe

Clive Barker’s iconic masterpiece The Hellbound Heart, the novella adapted into the film Hellraiser, unleashed a new mythology of horror, brilliantly conceived and born of the darkest imagination. Now, enter this visionary world—the merciless realm of the demonic Cenobites—in HELLBOUND HEARTS (Pocket Books; September 29, 2009; $16.00), a terrifying collection of stories inspired by The Hellbound Heart.

Featured here is the graphic work Wordsworth, from bestselling author Neil Gaiman and artist Dave McKean, who unlock an explicit way to violate innocence—one torturous puzzle at a time. New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong logs on to a disturbing website for gamers, where the challenge is agonizing, and the solution beyond painful. When his father disappears, an Oxford student returns to his family’s mansion, where a strange mechanism in the cellar holds a curious power, in a haunting illustrated work by Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola.

With a special foreword by Clive Barker, introduction by Stephen Jones, and afterword by Doug 'Pinhead' Bradley, HELLBOUND HEARTS is a must have for any horror and dark fantasy fan.

Also features hellraising tales by Peter Atkins • Conrad Williams • Sarah Pinborough • Mick Garris • Tim Lebbon • Richard Christian Matheson • Nancy Holder • Simon Clark • Steve Niles • Sarah Langan • Nicholas Vince • Yvonne Navarro • Mark Morris • Barbie Wilde • Jeffrey J. Mariotte • Nancy Kilpatrick • Gary A. Braunbeck & Lucy A. Snyder • Chaz Brenchley


“Prisoners of the Inferno” by Peter Atkins, Pages 14: The same way you can judge a book by its first chapter, you can judge an anthology by its opening story. In this regard I can instantly testify that it doesn’t get better than this. Highly atmospheric and relying on anticipation and suspense Atkins leaves the reader hang on and wait for the main attraction as vintage horror film enthusiast Jack inches forward to watching one of the most elusive horror movies from the 1930’s “The Cabinet of Doctor Coppelius”. In the beginning a skeptic, Jack quickly is swept with the fever of watching this almost extinct movie after buying a movie still featuring the main female lead Alice Lavender, an actress with one role only. Nothing gory happens at all in the story, which is odd considering the content of the Hellraiser movies and the nature of the mythology created by Clive Barker, but the short story’s ending is an open invitation for all readers as well as a hint towards what might lurk inside these pages.

“The Cold” by Conrad Williams, Pages 16: It’s winter, it’s cold and there seems to be a brand new whacked up serial killer lurking the streets of Manchester targeting beautiful women and cutting them up with surgical precision. The protagonist is the cynical and bitter law enforcer Gravier, who naturally is determined to get to the bottom of this. The story unravels in two intertwining plot lines, which infuse into a ghastly ending. Although I am not a fan of the cop with sly tongue and loud mouth, Williams has managed to breathe a new life in this overused trope, which left me wanting more. The voice and narration create a certain jagged dynamic to the story as if a glass painting has been thrashed to pieces and then assembled on the ground, the pieces fitting together loosely and with imperfections. Resembling collages. I found it quite refreshing. Also noteworthy is the Cenobite featured here and referred to as Lady Ice, who is more or less a very seducing dominatrix.

“The Confessor’s Tale” by Sarah Pinborough, Pages 14: Words can’t express the captivation I experienced with this one. For starters Pinborough managed to do three vital things. First, she managed to convince me that Russia is not such a bad place to read about, despite my dislike left from my school years. Then she managed to captivate me with pure story telling quality to a degree I overlooked the fact that the prose is not lyrical or anything memorable. With her the story and its essence stay with the reader. Third she sparked curiosity and interest into her protagonist Arkady Melanov, who is as unsympathetic and cold hearted as they come and also mute. The subject matter of course was a treat: the grim murderous instinct in the human mind as well as the sadistic streak that we try to deny and cover up in virtue, but nevertheless tempts us. Pinborough hints towards the unspeakable things people have committed in this story, sketches the vague outlines and leaves the readers to fill in the rest. As a side note I want to add that this is the only short story to shed some light on how Cenobites are being created.

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