The Curing of a Bibliomaniac Part 2: The Hellbound Heart (Clive Barker, 1987)

All right, so I bought it for the cool retro cover on this Fontana paperback version. It's not my fault. I have bibliomania.

All right, so the real reason I bought it was for the cool retro cover on this 1991 Fontana paperback version. It’s not my fault. I have bibliomania.

Books read: 2/26. Weeks remaining: 50

The Hellbound Heart is what the movie Hellraiser was based on, but I didn’t know about that when i got it. I first got it because I had read Barker’s The Great and Secret Show, which I loved –

such a rich, exciting, smart novel that labelling it “horror fantasy” seems reductionist.





At 128 pages, this is really a novella and an entirely different kettle of fish to the abovementioned, but I felt I had earned an easy read after the slow and slightly punishing experience of The Plague Dogs.

The Hellbound Heart is about footloose Frank, bored with life without any real attachments. Moreover, he’s a dirty bastard, so he goes to great lengths to open a portal to a world he has heard can offer sensual delights the like of which ordinary mortals can’t hope to access.

Things backfire when the monsters unleashed have an entirely different idea of what pleasure is, and before long Frank is in a horrific trap he must try to escape. But he cannot do it alone.

Hooray! I'm happy for you, exam-finishing stranger!

Hooray! I’m happy for you, exam-finishing stranger!



It’s an uncomplicated horror story; vivid and imaginative, certainly, and enjoyable enough, but not required reading. Good for a rainy arvo or weekend camping trip. Or exam relief, as the original buyer of this copy thought.





Reading this motivated me to see the movie version, Hellraiser, made in 1987 – the same year the book was first published. Clive Barker wrote and directed it so I thought it might be worth a look.

I think IMDB’s 7.1 is a little overgenerous… I’d say closer to 6.5. It had great monsters and special effects and some really satisfying gore that mitigated the frightful hairdos and stiff acting. Stiff acting can kind of enhance a horror movie though, making it creepier, so there is that.

I’ll get rid of this one, but now want to get myself a copy of The Great and Secret Show, because I’ve now remembered how good it was.

Incidentally, for those interested, The Hellbound Heart was first published as part of an anthology titled Night Visions 3.

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