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The Scarlet Gospels Book Review

The Scarlet Gospels Book

The much anticipated “The Scarlet Gospels” is a mixed bag.

When it comes to the work of author Clive Barker, it’s safe to say his most beloved creation is that of the sadistic Cenobite Pinhead. For years now, fans have been waiting breathlessly for Barker to create a new story with the infamous Hell Priest and, at long last, that time has come with his latest novel “The Scarlet Gospels.” The question is- was it worth the wait?

In order to prevent spoilers, I don’t want to get into the plot of “The Scarlet Gospels” too much, but I will say that it involves Pinhead collecting magic texts, magicians, occult Detective/Private Eye Harry D’Amour (who has appeared in numerous Clive Barker stories), a blind woman (Norma) who communicates with ghosts, Hell, Lucifer, Harry’s pals Caz, Dale, and Lana, and Pinhead plotting something major. You will just have to see how all of these storylines play together.

After suffering through numerous awful “Hellraiser” sequels, it was initially refreshing to see Barker delve back into the world of Pinhead with “The Scarlet Gospels.” The novel certainly starts strong thanks to Barker’s brisk pacing and the cinematic attention grabbing subplots, but unfortunately, the frantic story veers out of control mid-way through. It’s clear that Barker is making up for lost time here as he crams in far too many ideas for a single novel. Granted, the story has a sense of urgency and is never boring, but there’s no downtime which leaves little room for characterization.

Perhaps the book’s most puzzling aspect is Barker’s prose. I’m not sure if the prolific author was rusty or if his distinct writing seems a bit dated by today’s standards, but parts of “The Scarlet Gospels” legitimately felt like fan fiction. This was most noticeable with the cheesy vulgar dialogue, the overblown action set pieces (see Pinhead’s overlong climactic fight), and the groan worthy sexual innuendos.

Disappointments aside, Barker does deliver in giving fans plenty of Pinhead and Harry D’Amour action. Again, I don’t want to reveal too much, but Pinhead aficionados will be especially happy to see the character unleashing hell in, well, hell. Also, Pinhead’s ambitious quest may seem over-the-top on the page, but it does give the evil villain more depth. As for ol’ Harry, he’s mostly a man on his mission here, but the final few pages offer up many possibilities for the character’s future.

Overall Thoughts: Despite being a bloody mess, “The Scarlet Gospels” is still worth a read. There’s a lot to gripe about, but there’s much to enjoy as well.


May 14, 2015 - Posted by | Book review | , , , , ,

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