Clive Barker is the scariest writer I’ve ever read.
As much as I love Stephen King, never has one of his stories made me return a book the day after reading it; that’s exactly what happened after I read Barker’s “The Body Politic,” found in the fourth volume of the author’s Books of Blood. The story, of hands that develop consciousness and lead a revolt, kept me up the night after I read it (I was way too young, mind you, maybe 10 or 11 years old), and the next day I returned the volume I’d only just bought to the local book store, making the excuse that the person it had been purchased for already had it. I was that freaked out.
Barker’s Books of Blood led Stephen King himself to declare, “I’ve seen the future of horror, and his name is Clive Barker,” which, while an amazing compliment, would definitely put some pressure on this author from the UK. And while I’m a fan of The Damnation Game and Cabal, the latter that would eventually become the film Night Breed, for my money, Clive was never more frightening than when he penned the Books of Blood. If you haven’t read “The Body Politic,” “In The Hills, the Cities,” “Pig Blood Blues,” or “Dread,” well, stop now and go and order the Books of Blood and prepare to absolutely scare yourself silly. For my money, those are some of the greatest short stories I’ve ever read, horror or otherwise.
Clive Barker is more than just a writer, though; he really is a renaissance man, a gifted filmmaker and visual artist whose style in all the mediums he’s worked is distinct. That’s what makes the gorgeous new hardcover book, Clive Barker’s Dark Worlds, such a gift for his acolytes.
Written by his longtime friends and archivists Phil and Sarah Stokes, Clive Barker’s Dark Worlds takes us through his incredible artistic life, from his novels and paintings to his films like Hellraiser, Night Breed, and Lord of Illusion. This isn’t just a book of images, though; nearly 400 pages long, this is a glorious deep dive into Barker’s creativity, thoughtfully navigated by two writers with impeccable insight into his art. Yes, it’s lavishly illustrated with unseen images of all sorts, but it’s also well-written and extremely informative.
As the author turns 70 years old today (October 7th, 2022), there’s no better way to celebrate his work than with Clive Barker’s Dark Worlds, even if it’s guaranteed to give you nightmares.
Happy birthday, Clive, from everyone at Biff Bam Pop!