I have just finished reading what is quite easily the best fiction book that I have read this year, The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker.
Some of you might recognise the character on the cover a ‘Pinhead’ from the Hellraiser series of films. 30 years ago Clive Barker wrote a novella, The Hellbound Heart, which introduced Pinhead. Mr Barker then wrote a screenplay and when he struggled to find a director who could do it justice, he decided to direct the film version of the book. The eponymous Hellraiser began. Unlike other horrow films, for example Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th, Pinhead isn’t the ‘monster’. He is more complex and as with other Clive Barker films, humans are shown to be the real monsters.
The Scarlet Gospels is a sequel to the original book, probably set after all of the other Hellraiser films. I had a quick look on IMDB and it would appear that there are over a dozen Hellraiser films. I gave up at number 6 as they were gradually getting more and more rubbish. Mr Barker had a hand in the first three, so I would suggest watching those and then stopping, although he does have a hand in the remake due next year.
Back to the book, and it grabbed me form the start. New characters are introduced, nut the detective Harry D’amour makes a welcome return, as does Pinhead, who we discover hates the nickname. The book also describes the ‘pins’, which are big long rusty nails that pierce deep into his skull. The basic plot is that Pinhead has murdered all of the magicians on Earth and using their power wants to take over Hell. Harry’s best friend get kidnapped, so Harry and his band of Harrowers descend in to Hell to rescue her.
This book isn’t for everyone as it is an out and out horror novel, with blood, gore and visceral imaginary. It would probably help if you had read The Hellbound Heart or some of the stories with Harry D’amour, although it isn’t essential.
My first Book Review of the year featured another Clive Barker book (read about it Here), and he remains one of the favorite authors, and I would love to see this book made into a film, as long as Clive Barker is involved.