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The Hellbound Heart: A Novel by Clive Barker

The Hellbound Heart: A Novel (original 1986; edition 2007)

by Clive Barker

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1,589354,654 (3.82)28
Title:The Hellbound Heart: A Novel
Authors:Clive Barker
Info:Harper Perennial (2007), Paperback, 164 pages
Collections:Already read
Tags:horror, fiction

Work details

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker (1986)

  1. 30
    Cabal by Clive Barker (Anonymous user, Hanike)
    Hanike: One of the best books by Clive Barker and has the delightful touch of Hellraiser's Cenobites this time in the shape of demons.
  2. 10
    Books of Blood 1-3 by Clive Barker (Hanike)
    Hanike: You simply can't read Clive Barker without going through his Books of Blood: they are the synthesis of this world covered on blood, tragedy & darkness he showed us!
  3. 00
    Shella by Andrew Vachss (andomck)
    andomck: Hell on Earth, both metaphoric and real
  4. 00
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (andomck)
    andomck: Both are haunted house stories at their core

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English (33)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All (35)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
The Hellbound Heart - Clive Barker ***

I don’t know if many people realise that the 80’s film Hellraiser was based on a short novella by Clive Barker?

The Hellbound Heart is quick read. The basic plotline is that Frank has come into possession of a box. This box has a number of secret switches and slides that when pressed in the correct sequence allow it to be opened. This then acts as a sort of portal that allows mystical beings of Hell called the Cenobites to enter into our world. Their mission is to deliver extremes of torture to the person that has summoned them, some intentionally, some on accident. For Frank this means endlessly having all his flesh torn off by hooks for an eternity, not what he had planned.... he was just looking for the ultimate pleasue. He opens the box in a bedroom of his deceased grandparents house, the property which has been left to both him and his brother Rory. Throw into the mix that Frank was having an affair with his brother’s wife Julia and things get a little more complicated. After Frank has been missing several weeks, Rory and Julia move into the property, but there is always something odd about that one bedroom. An accident sees a bit of blood spilled and this appears to be enough to drag Frank back from the bowels of hell, however he is stripped of flesh. The only way that he can become human again is by Julia luring victims to the house so he can repair himself using their bodies and blood.

The book was ok. At around 128 pages it wasn’t as good as I had anticipated but it was still worth a read. For those that are a lover of horror they may find something here to keep them occupied. Although I always enjoy a scary book, this wasn’t the suspenseful type and relied on the shock and gore factor to keep the reader satisfied. I wish that the ideas behind the Cenobites and their world had been explored more rather than just the fleeting glimpses. All in all, not a bad novella, it hasn’t made me want to pick up any more of Barker’s works, but hasn’t put me off him either. ( )
  Bridgey | Mar 24, 2017 |
The fiction that came out of the Splatterpunk era is often dismissed as being violent or gory strictly because it can. The Hellbound Heart is an example of a story that gets it just right.

Gross? Yes. Visceral? Yes. But also redemtive and even bizarrely touching.

My book group read this for Valentines Day one year, and it was an oddly appropriate choice. ( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
Not many minds can come up with the twisted worlds Clive Barker does. The plot for the Hellbound Heart is a creative, freaky version of Hell. The underlying theme is the fine lines between pleasure and pain, the greed and desperation of mankind to always seek what is beyond its reach and out of this world. But, besides all that, it is in a way a demented, twisted, dark, fairy-tale like love story. It focuses on a woman who believes she is in love with her husband’s brother, and would do anything to reclaim that passionate night she once held with him.

The story is as much fantasy as it is horror, with a bit of realism intertwined. (yikes)
Dark, stiff, matter-of-fact. The cenobites are not main characters per se, merely tools. Nothing much is revealed on them other than the fact that they work with simple rules to play the darkest game imaginable. Julia is shown as an uptight woman ruled by secret desires she eventually kills for. Kirsty is hampered by unmet excitement in her life, wanting a man who doesn’t care for her in the same way, then being slapped in the face by something she never wanted nor asked to see. Frank is a man who has always been searching for things beyond this world, never happy with something he can easily put his hands on. Rory is a loving man, simple and not adequate for Julia’s tastes, clueless to what she really feels for him. In a way he is the saddest victim of the novel, reminding me of many people walking around today and being used.
The pace is even; this novella has a lot to cover in a relatively small amount of time. Barker goes for the jugular from the first page with summaries of pain, ending with a hopeless sort of ending that doesn’t make one want to sleep well at night.

I always thought that Barker’s style seemed to a change a bit depending on what he was writing. If you read various short stories in the books of blood, you may see what I mean. His writing mildly changes to fit what he’s penciling out, and that’s a good trait. For the Hellbound Heart, his words are devoid of any humor or light. He’s to the point, crisp and short. As always he uses advanced vocabulary, although he doesn’t get as carried away as some of his other works. Many of the words he used to paint imagery/scenes are almost artistic in the way they’re phrased.

The Hellbound Heart carries much of the same weight as the film Hellraiser, but it lacks some magic. The story is a good one, a haunting one, but it’s not something that stands out too much.

The story is different for sure, the characters are realistic (although not that enjoyable), and the ending was exciting. I believe if I had seen the movie after the book, my opinion may be different. There wasn’t the big fight and brawl at the end like in the film; I thought more could have been added there. It just ended up being too short, too wrapped up for my tastes. Kirstys’ climax was strong but because of the timing of her discovery, to the last page, it wasn’t long lasting. I would have loved seeing this as a fleshed out novel.

Even if this isn’t the best book out there, the idea is sensational, the writing superb, the moral lesson clear. I think every horror fan owes it to themselves to read this book. ( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
Barker wrote a sinisterly sweet tale here that will stick to your guts. Grotesque and dark, yet he made this a FUN ride for the reader. I miss the slasher decade of the 80's, and this brought me right back to it. He created some beautifully dark imagery, and the characters here are unforgettable.
My only quip is I wish this was longer!
Highly recommended! ( )
  XoVictoryXo | May 31, 2016 |
This is a novella which I really enjoyed. If you're looking for something in horror and want to cut your teeth on Clive Barker's writing, this is a good plce to begin. The work is more than a little uneven, rough in places; but it also shines at times. At the "heart" of the story rests a completely sick, twisted set of relationships and despite this the book works. I finished it in two sittings and was completely enraptured throughout. Although you can see the end coming, I still wanted to get to it and I wasn't the least bit disappointed. I might even goes as far as to suggest that this story be set beside classics like "The Monkey's Paw" and "The Tell-Tale Heart". ( )
  RalphLagana | Jan 23, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clive Barkerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Reinert, KirkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061002828, Mass Market Paperback)

Clive Barker is widely acknowledged as the master of nerve-shattering horror. The Hellbound Heart is one of his best, one of the most dead-frightening stories you are likely to ever read, a story of the human heart and all the great terrors and ecstasies within.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:37 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Originally published in an anthology collection called "Night Visions", this long novella was the basis for the film "Hellraiser". Considered by many Barker fans to be among his best, the story introduces Pinhead, the leader of a group of hell-spawned demons called Cenobites, as he (it?) tries to secure the soul of Uncle Frank, who foolishly thought that he could arrive at the gateway to ultimate pleasure without traveling a path of grisly torture and pain.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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