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Coldheart Canyon

 
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Coldheart Canyon - 10/6/2008 8:43:14 AM   
Fritz Lang


Posts: 429
Joined: 2/3/2008
From: Gotham City
Clive Barker is often categorized as a horror writer, and while he certainly uses some of the elements of the genre (ghosts, etc.), he is a far different writer from a Stephen King, Peter Straub or Dean Koontz. The worlds Barker creates are far more bizarre than anything you see in a standard horror novel; sometimes this works well, but other times, Barker's works are so strange that their very strangeness weakens his stories.
In this case, however, Barker has done a fine job in creating his own version of a haunted house story. Having recently read King and Straub's Black House, as well as other older classic haunted house stories such as the Shining (by King) or the Haunting (by Shirley Jackson), I am familiar with the conventions, but Barker is successful in twisting these conventions into new directions.
The haunted house in this case is located in an isolated canyon in Los Angeles. A former party house for silent film stars, it has been seeemingly abandoned for years, until a modern movie star retreats there while recovering from plastic surgery. The ghosts of the old stars are still here, drawn to a power within the house; also here is the house's owner, still alive and as young as when she was a silents star herself.
The forces in the house are not so much driven by evil as by lust. This creates a sexual explicitness that may turn off some readers who are caught unaware, but it is essential in the context of this story. The main character is not so much threatened with death (although this is always a possibility) as with being seduced by the powers within the house.
This is one of Barker's better efforts, a well-written work that - despite its length - I was able to finish in just a couple of reasonably idle days. If there is a flaw in the book, I think it is in the last 100 or so pages, which serve more as an extended epilogue than a true part of the story. Overall, this is a good book, however, and worth the effort for fans of horror or dark fantasy...

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RE: Coldheart Canyon - 13/6/2008 12:28:24 AM   
Funkyrae


Posts: 20372
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Just stick a pin in a map
Clive Barker can turn his hand to pretty much any genre, he just fits nicely with surreal horror.  Coldheart Canyon is a fantastic book.  Heavily erotic in places and not in the slightest bit tacky.  A rare treat.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, but strangely it isn't a Barker I keep returning to.  I have all of his books (a fair few of them signed by the man) and have been lucky enough to meet him.  It is a bloody good book though, but only really for the Barker fans.  It's not one to introduce a Barker noob to.

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RE: Coldheart Canyon - 25/6/2008 2:52:07 PM   
borstal


Posts: 9175
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: its grom up nirth
Just reading this at the moment. Although it deals with typical Barker themes its still original and makes fantastical reading.

Always loved his horrific fairytale type language since I read Imagica years ago.

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RE: Coldheart Canyon - 22/8/2008 3:35:57 PM   
damn im good!


Posts: 498
Joined: 12/10/2005
From: Left of hell, East of damnation
Yeah, great book. It is very sexual, but i think the majority of Barkers novels are. And it's not sex for the sake of sex. It's returing humanity to it's basest instincts. Somehow it drives the characters on and makes them far more human. But I agree with Funkrae. It's not one I return to often. I think I've read it twice as opposed to Weaveworld which i can't read anymore as my eyes have takent the print off the page I've read it that much. 

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RE: Coldheart Canyon - 22/8/2008 9:05:01 PM   
Funkyrae


Posts: 20372
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Just stick a pin in a map
Same here with Weaveworld.  My copy is ancient (unfortunately not a first ed) but is signed by Clive Barker.  I need to get another copy of it for reading as the binding is starting to fall apart!

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RE: Clive Barker - 4/5/2009 3:45:51 PM   
Mogwai


Posts: 671
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Northern Ireland
Is it me or does anyone find that there seems to be a Clive Barker book in every charity shop they go to? I think I've seen Sacrament about five times, perhaps a) there are a lot of Barker fans where I live and they want everyone to read his books or b) there are no fans.

All my Clive Barker books are from charity shops (I don’t have all his books) apart from Imajica, which was the first Barker novel I read. Actually, it was Books of Blood. I really wish they would publish his novels again, on a purely aesthetic level because a lot of them look really tatty and corny looking. The designs are naff, even Abarat with Barker's own paintings is let down by the badly designed cover.

Anyway, I bought The Hellbound Heart from Barnados last week. If anyone has seen Hellraiser, the film based on the novella, then you know what to expect here. It’s the same apart from a couple of instances. Surprisingly, this is one of those less-than-frequent times when a film is better than its source material.  

It seems that Barker, when he wrote and directed Hellraiser, took away all the things that made the novella, well, naff. It all comes across as a bit trite, and not particularly scary (unlike the film). The depiction of the Cenobites is mostly laughable; they come across as shockingly civil and friendly. In the film, and I don’t like comparing a book and a film but in this instance it is hard not to, they are relentless, unremitting, inhuman. In the book they’re more like “well tally ho, we’ll just put some hooks into you eh boyo!”.

Also, Pinhead isn’t in it. Well, he is but he isn’t named and is very inconsequential. He does have the two classic lines “…tear your soul apart” and “no tears please it’s a waste of good suffering”. Of course it sounds much better in the film; Pinhead is quite a charismatic figure, apart from the whole tearing you apart for pleasure/pain and the increasingly daft sequels that rendered him a shell of his former self. Actually, is it even him who says those lines in the book? I can’t even remember it now.  

It doesn’t have the “Jesus wept” line which is pitch-perfect in the film. Instead Frank says “fucking bitch” which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Anyway, it wasn’t bad and perhaps I would have enjoyed more if I hadn’t watched the film first. I don’t know. It wasn’t very good, probably the worst by Barker.

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