cover image Books of Blood, Vols. I-III

Books of Blood, Vols. I-III

Clive Barker. Scream Press, $30 (476pp) ISBN 978-0-910489-14-0

Published last year in Britain as three paperback originals, these short narratives garnered impressive reviews. This edition, Barker's first hardcover appearance in America, gathers together 16 stories in one volume as the author originally intended and contains eerily effective illustrations by fantasy artists J. K. Potter and Harry O. Morris. The tales are of varying quality and will please mostly readers who like their horror bloody and graphic. An occasional reliance on hokey set-ups and deus ex machinas, and the frequent shifting of intention in mid-story are jarring qualities, however. Further, a pervasive misanthropy colors the narratives and makes them unpleasant in a way the author probably didn't intend. The best entry, ""Human Remains,'' about a male hustler and his doppelganger, isthe only one in which the author actually seems to like his protagonist.Also good are the almost dreamlike``New Murders in the Rue Morgue,'' ``Scape-goats,'' about an island that is an altar to the drowned, and ``Son of Celluloid,'' which generates a full complement of chills. Ramsey Campbell has contributed a lavishly praiseful introduction. November 15