November 1st, 2009


Hellbound Hearts

I've just finished reading Hellbound Hearts, an anthology of stories based on Clive Barker's 'Hellraiser mythos', edited by Paul Kane and Marie O'Regan. When I bought it I wasn't sure whether it would be a suitable book to discuss in darkling_tales, since one of the main aims of this community is to provide a haven for readers seeking an alternative to horror based on gore, gratuitous sex and violence, and the Hellraiser film franchise delivers buckets of all three! I also tend to dislike it when writers follow a 'mythos' too slavishly, especially when this involves recycling old characters. So I was taking a big risk with Hellbound Hearts! It could've been a truly awful collection, but in fact, it's a jolly good read. I've always thought that Clive Barker's original novella The Hellbound Heart was a fine piece of writing with a lot more to it than mating and dismemberment, and to my delight most of the authors here have homed in on the underlying themes that make the novella fascinating, instead of focussing solely on the surface tropes of S&M, gore and religious imagery. More Hellbound *Hearts*. Mainly.Collapse )

Anyway, there is plenty of other good stuff in here, but if I listed all the tales I liked I'd be going on all night. As you may have gathered, Hellbound Hearts is a must-read for lovers of the mythos, but also a collection I would recommend without hesitation to any fan of old or new horror fiction. People online are lamenting the lack of a new story by Barker, but to be honest I didn't notice the absence (and he does at least provide a Foreword and lurid jacket art.) There are some frankly bizarre reviews of this book floating about the internet (including one from a website claiming to represent Women In Horror which dismisses the whole book as being aimed solely at survivors of child abuse. Well they ain't representing me, I can tell you!) But I really wouldn't let that put you off ;)