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Books of Blood, Vol. 4 (1985)

by Clive Barker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Books of Blood (4)

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1,2371013,406 (3.75)21
A master storyteller and unrivaled visionary, Clive Barker has mixed the real and unreal with the horrible and wonderful in more than twenty years of fantastic fiction. "The Inhuman Condition" is a masterwork of surrealistic terror, recounting tragedy with pragmatism, inspiring panic more than dread and evoking equal parts revulsion and delight.… (more)
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» See also 21 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Back when Barker still wrote interesting things. ( )
  Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
Four stars just for the first story alone. The best story in any of the collections so far. I didn't care much for The Body Politic and Down Satan, but the others were good.

But The Inhuman Condition is just frigging brilliant, and it points to where Barker would take his writing in years to come.

I honestly thought I'd tire of Barker, reading these collections so tightly together, but I'm finding I'm enjoying them more as I go. ( )
  TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
Tired of dirty work
maneuvering while you sleep
the oppressed revolt. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
I should say up-front that I'm a huge fan of Clive Barker--his horror novels are some of my favorites, and I also have a huge amount of respect for his talents as a playwright; his play The History of the Devil is one of the most powerful I've seen, and I'll never forget my first experience watching it, though that was about 20 years ago now. As such, my expectations were pretty high coming into this collection....

And I ended up feeling like it was somewhat uneven. The stand-outs in the collection are "The Body Politic", "Revelations", and, to a lesser extent, "The Age of Desire". The two novella-length pieces, "The Inhuman Condition" and "The Age of Desire" felt somehow frenetic and over-packed, and I have to think that either could have been fantastic if allowed to flower out into a full novel, but lost some of their power in this form. One of Barker's undeniable talents is characterization--his writing is brilliant, is concepts are horrifying, and his plotting is spot-on, but it's his characterization and the masterful way he brings characters to life against such a larger background as he paints that really makes his work so powerful. In these two novellas, plot and atmosphere were prioritized over character, and I think they suffered for it. At the same time, they're still great reads, and I have to think that my high expectations of Barker led me here to feel a bit of disappointment, where I would have been impressed otherwise. Still, those other stand-outs I mentioned, shorter as they may be, blew the longer pieces out of the water.

No doubt, Barker isn't for everyone--I'm a hardened horror reader and writer, and it takes a lot to make me flinch, but I cringed at a few spots while reading this collection. He has a way of bringing gore and horror to life so that they feel real--like you're glimpsing a true nightmare rather than wandering into a story--and it's hard not to love that if you're a horror fan. Barker's particular brand of horror also brings in the sacred and profane, religion, and even ethics and free will. The mix, against his gorgeous prose, makes for some wonderfully uncomfortable reading.

In short, I'd absolutely recommend this collection to fans of horror short stories, but I'd caution long-time Barker fans to temper their expectations in comparison to some of his longer works. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Jul 22, 2019 |
Probably my overall favorite in Barker's Books of Blood anthology. Every time I pick up a comp of his short fiction, I am starkly reminded of how much stronger his work is in this format than in lengthier novels. Barker really has a gift for short stories. It isn't that I don't enjoy the novels, it's just that the shorter fiction is so much better composed.

The first three stories in this volume are among Clive's career best. "The Inhuman Condition" and "The Body Politic" are so rich with originality that even if the quality of writing were weaker (and it is quite strong here), they'd still be great tales of the macabre. But the originality combined with his narrative skill make them standout works in his large body of writing. "Revelations", the third tale, is slightly less original than its predecessors, but easily my favorite of the collection. Rather than seeking to strike wholly new ground, Barker puts his unique spin on a classic ghost story here. Great characterizations, solid writing, and perfectly-paced tension. I read this story twice, just because i loved it that much.

Regrettably, the fourth story (more a vignette at eight pages) is pretty weak and feels like filler. The final tale, "Age of desire", is passable, but so heavily laden with the stark and graphic sexuality that defined a lot of Barker's work that it feels a bit unwieldy and heavy-handed. It's an interesting enough tale, I suppose, but burdened with pseudo-erotica to the point of boredom.

The weakness of the final two stories manages to drop my score from a perfect 5 to a 4-star review, which is a bit of a shame. The first three were so promising that the failure to ultimately deliver feels like more of a letdown than it probably should. In any event, I highly recommend the collection to any fans of horror, the macabre, or Barker. Just know that your mileage may vary with the last 1/3rd of the book. The first 2/3rds make it well worth the time spent, however. ( )
  Daninsky | Aug 19, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clive Barkerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A master storyteller and unrivaled visionary, Clive Barker has mixed the real and unreal with the horrible and wonderful in more than twenty years of fantastic fiction. "The Inhuman Condition" is a masterwork of surrealistic terror, recounting tragedy with pragmatism, inspiring panic more than dread and evoking equal parts revulsion and delight.

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