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The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

By Pamelascott


The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

Harper Voyager (e-book), 1986

204 pages


Frank Cotton’s insatiable appetite for the dark pleasures of pain led him to the puzzle of Lemarchand’s box, and from there, to a death only a sick-minded soul could invent. But his brother’s love-crazed wife, Julia, has discovered a way to bring Frank back; though the price will be bloody and terrible . . . and there will certainly be hell to pay.


So intent was Frank upon solving the puzzle of Lemarchand’s box that he didn’t hear the great bell begin to ring. The device had been constructed by a master craftsman, and the riddle was this – that though he’d been told the box contained wonders, there simply seemed to be no way into it; no clue on any of its six black lacquered faces as to the whereabouts of the pressure points that would disengage one piece of this three-dimensional jigsaw from another. 


The Hellbound Heart was adapted for screen as Hellraiser.

I had a limited edition paperback copy of The Hellbound Heart that got lost some time ago. I likely bundled it up by mistakes when donating various piles of books to charity. I’ve had trouble buying a paperback copy since but snapped up the e-book a few weeks ago.

I think The Hellbound Heart is great. Barker offers a creepy and quite disturbing tale. The written version had a lot of less blood and gore than Hellraiser on the big screen or at least Barker puts it across in a much subtler way. There is a decent amount of violence in The Hellbound Heart but this is not excessive or stomach churning as it comes across in the film. The Cenobites are the most unsettling horror villains I’ve ever read and they gave me the creeps and sent chills down my spine every time Barker mentioned them. If I met them in a dark alley I’d about turn and run screaming for the hills. After I’d wet my pants of course. The Hellbound Heart contains a lot of disturbing and frightening images least of all the Cenobites with their wounds and flaps and knife and pins. Frank Cotton scuttling about in the shadows all fleshless is enough to give anyone the willies. And Julia, oh what a bitch she is and even nastier in print than on the screen. Kirsty is much better in The Hellbound Heart than the movie though I thought it was interesting she is Rory’s friend and not his daughter as she is on screen. Barker offers up a well-written and truly creepy horror yarn with The Hellbound Heart. I love the title as well. I’m glad a tracked down another copy. The Hellbound Heart is a fine example of what Barker does so well – takes you to levels of creepiness you’ve never been to before and disturbs you in ways no other writer can.





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