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This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?
Folks obsessed with the Hellraiser comic series and films would enjoy the Scarlet Gospells. Readers who enjoy depictions of gore for gore's sake might like it. Beyond that, Barker completionists, of which I'm one, may tolerate it but are unlikely to really enjoy it.
Has The Scarlet Gospels turned you off from other books in this genre?
No. I enjoy horror and fantasy, always have always will. It has warned me off Barker though. I've read pretty much everything he's ever written from short stories to the longest novels. He's rarely disappointed me, but this book is one of the exceptions to the rule.
What three words best describe John Lee’s voice?
Mr. Lee works too hard at differentiating characters with heavy handed accents and speech style affectations. They get distracting and don't contribute much to the story.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
I'd have to say all three. At his best, Barker achieved transcendent story telling and rose beyond genre. Books like the Great and Secret Show and Imajica added to my own personal mythology and lifted me up beyond the mundane world to an almost spiritual high. This... the Scarlet Gospels... feels like pandering to the lowest common denominator of Barker fandom. I'm talking about the Hellraiser films, the scary monster gore fests that played on shock and striking visuals to terrify late adolescents and young adults on date night. The Scarlet Gospels doesn't have the naivety and fun of the Books of Blood, nor the vision of Imajica, nor the breadth of the tales of the Abarat. Instead, It came off feeling like fan-fic, not like it came from the pen of one of the masters of phantasmagorical fiction of our age. I felt cheated as I listened to it, almost as if I'd been duped and a ghost writer had been employed with Barker signing his name to it as an "executive author." I know that's not likely the case, but it's how it feels.
Any additional comments?
Finally, a word on Harry Damour. This character is wasted in this book. Harry's not much more than an analog for the reader, a witness to the events of the text. However, Harry's story was the one with some potential. I would pay to see a series on the life and trials of Harry Damour. He's always been a character more in Barker's head and intentions than one that's made it fully fleshed to the page and I'm sad to say, that remains the case despite his supporting role in this text.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book from Clive Barker and/or John Lee?
I am planning to delve into the Barker collection. I read "Hellbound Heart" many years ago, and I think Clive Barker is clever and original. I am sad that Pinhead's story arc doesn't get much play in any of the other stories (as far as I can tell). I would have loved to have the universe of Hell Priests expanded into a full history.
John Lee, on the other hand, was very disappointing as the narrator. I don't expect the narrator to come up with a voice for every character, so I never understand why narrators go out of their way to attempt voices and accents that are far beyond their range. With the core characters being of American origin, it was not a good idea to cast a narrator from the UK to attempt caricature American accents that wouldn't even sound good in a cartoon.
Every time he spoke as Harry, or, worse, Lana, it completely took me out of the story as both sounded like they should have been arguing in a Bronx deli over rye bread instead of how to defeat an onslaught of demons.
If you’ve listened to books by Clive Barker before, how does this one compare?
This is the first book I've listened to by Clive Barker. I'll listen to the others as long as Lee isn't the narrator.
How could the performance have been better?
If you can't do an accent, don't try. The listening audience isn't here for a theatrical performance. We're hear to listen to a story. If it's absolutely necessary that the characters have American accents, then use a narrator who is either American or can speak in an American accent.
Did The Scarlet Gospels inspire you to do anything?
Yes. I want to re-record it.
Any additional comments?
From what I've read about Barker and Pinhead, it seems like he doesn't want to do anything else with the character, which is fine. But, my hope is that he changes his mind someday and revisits the monastery with its many Hell Priests. I'd love to know its history and purpose.
12 of 14 people found this review helpful