This review was originally written in May of 2015.
The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker was over far too quickly. I wish that this book had been longer, that there had been more to it, and it was already packed full. This was one of those books that I probably couldn’t have gotten enough of, no matter how long he’d ended up making it. I felt a sincere sense of disappointment when I finished the final page, not because the ending was disappointing in any way (which it was not) but simply because I knew that my time in the world Barker had created was over, and I didn’t want it to be.
I’ve shared some of my thoughts on this book already with a lot of people, along the journey, so some of this will be familiar to anyone who’s seen those thoughts expressed.
This was a perfect blend of the adventurous scope of The Great and Secret Show and Everville and the up close and personal horror of The Hellbound Heart, though it leaned a little bit more to the adventure end of the spectrum (but when that adventure takes place in Hell, it’s all horror).
I didn’t even need to make it 100 pages into the book before its hooks were buried deep. Harry D’Amour stumbling upon a Lament Configuration, knowing it for precisely what it was, and still feeling compelled to caress it was one of the best sequences in literature I’ve read in a long time.
Barker’s depiction of Hell is one of the most original I’ve ever encountered…a strange sort of mixture between Dante’s Inferno, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the portrayal from the Hellblazer comics (more familiar to a lot of people as the source material for both the movie and television series Constantine).
I’m not going to spoil anything, because you really need to read this for yourself…but this is a very transformative story for all those involved. No one comes out of the events of this novel unchanged, neither human nor demonic, and not even the fabric of Hell itself is safe.
Perhaps it’s wrong that I couldn’t help but picture Scott Bakula as D’Amour and that I couldn’t read Pinhead’s dialogue without hearing Doug Bradley’s voice and that certain cadence that he imparts in his portrayal of the character…but if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Now I just want to see this book adapted into a movie.