Book Review: Hellbound Heart

“Pleasure was pain there, and vice versa. And he knew it well enough to call it home.”

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This gruesome little novella made Barker quite famous as its film adaptation, Hellraiser, gained so much popularity. I have seen a lot of the movies based on the idea of the Lemarchand’s device and the Cenobites, but I had yet to pick up this quick read until recently. It’s obvious that Barker expanded heavily on this original idea in the movies but he unfortunately only lays a foundation of the story in the novella. He goes into a vague explanation of the puzzle box and who the Cenobite’s are but he definitely leaves you wanting more.

The story starts out with Frank opening the box and summoning the Cenobites only to get taken by them into to their dimension where pleasure is pain and Frank is soon trapped. We then begin to follow Julie as she moves into the house where Frank opened the box. Blood is shed in the room where Frank solved the puzzle, and it is soon realized that blood can feed Frank back to life…and Julie begins to provide. When the murders get out of hand and Frank is not ‘fully formed’, the secret gets out and the story takes a turn for the worse as others get involved and the box is eventually passed into other hands…

I think the concept of the Lemarchand box and The Order of the Gash, the Cenobites, are amazing. I love the dark fantasy aspect Barker brings to all his books and then he amps it up with some gory horror. It’s definitely quite a different book than my last Barker read, Weaveworld. This novella was packed with much more horror, and I loved it! I wish the book was longer and there was more insight into The Order, their ‘dimension’ or ‘world’, and this Engineer that is brought up. I know much more is explained in some of the later Hellraiser movies but I want it in writing, damn it! That was my only real complaint from this one, and I am of course very excited to venture into more of Barker’s novels!

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