cover image The Scarlet Gospels

The Scarlet Gospels

Clive Barker. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-05580-4

Harry D’Amour, the psychically sensitive detective from Barker’s Books of Blood, faces off with Pinhead, the sadistic Cenobite star of the Hellraiser series, in this gory battle royal that takes the reader literally to hell and back. Following a blood-spattered prologue that sets the tone for the rest of the novel, Pinhead—here portrayed as a demon residing in hell—lures D’Amour and his entourage of mortal sidekicks to the infernal realm to serve as “witness” to what the demon calls “my gospels”: a succession of gruesome atrocities whose purpose is revealed in the tale’s outrageous climax. Barker’s depiction of hell is Dantesque in scope and scale, and his descriptions of its architecture and denizens form an awesomely creative display of imagination. The visceral horrors that clot nearly every page of this novel are not for the squeamish, but the reader who stomachs them to the end will be impressed by the audacity of the author’s ambitions. (May)