Marty Strauss, a gambling addict recently released from prison, is hired to be the personal bodyguard of Joseph Whitehead, one of the wealthiest men in the world. The job proves more complicated and dangerous than he thought, however, as Marty soon gets caught up in a series of supernatural events involving Whitehead, his daughter (who is a heroin addict), and a devilish man named Mamoulian, with whom Whitehead made a Faustian bargain many years earlier, during World War II.
As time passes, Mamoulian haunts Whitehead using his supernatural powers (such as the ability to raise the dead), urging him to complete his pact with him. Eventually Whitehead decides to escape his fate after a few encounters with Mamoulian and having his wife, former bodyguard, and now his daughter Carys taken away from him. With hope still left to save Carys, Marty Strauss, although reluctant to get involved in the old man Whiteheads deserved punishment, decides to get involved and attempt to save the innocent gifted addict from being another victim to the damnation game.
New cover art by: Christian Francis/Awesome Monkey UK
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Awesome release, I am a happy man!
Hard to say, I began my love of reading as a young teen with Stephen King and Piers Anthony, some Dean Koontz, etc. But when I first read Barker, I thought to myself, "You can do that?!?!" I can't express in words alone how please I am that Crossroads Press is releasing new audio versions of Mr. Barker's works, first the Books of Blood (excellent and highly recommended) and now The Damnation Game. Thank you Crossroads Press and Audible!!!
Hard to say again, none of the characters are really that likable. Yet, each brings their own personality and flavor to the novel. The novel is very much a story of regret over life decisions. I think we all have some of those, so each character can be identified with to some extent. The only purely evil character in the book must be Anthony Breer, the last of the Razor Eaters, truly as disgusting and vile a character as I have ever read in a novel.
I actually liked his Whitehead as well as his Mamoulian. He expressed early Whitehead's cleverness well as well as his later cowardice and regret and yet he never took me over into complete sympathy (of which Whitehead really never is a truly sympathetic character), so I think Mr. Vance nailed him. I liked the odd, slow drawl he gave Mamoulian, it made him seem ancient and "Old European".
No, but there are some parts that are just downright creepy. Going through the whole story knowing that Breer is "not what he seems" (don't want to spoil anything here) while Breer doesn't even realize what is happening was genius. And just when we think we know how messed up Breer is, BAM! we get to see Mamoulian's basement and what lurks there... Barker hit it out of the park there. The descriptions of the nihilistic emptiness of "the void" is actually pretty disturbing in some respects, it makes one wonder about death and emptiness. The book definitely has it's moments.
This was Mr. Barker's first foray into a full novel and it differs somewhat from his Books of Blood short stories. The I gave everything only four stars because to get a five stars from me must mean it was some of the best I have ever read. I think this novel really merits maybe four and a half stars but not quite five because of one simple reason, it is quite long and I don't know that it really needed to be that long. Again, I think this was because it was his first novel, really nothing else. As well, I enjoy Mr. Vance, but some of the voices I recognized to be very similar to his reading of Tigana y Guy Gavriel Kay. That was just slightly off-putting to me, but I do believe Mr. Vance was the right narrator for this novel. His English accent matches very well to Mr. Barker's works. Other than that, I highly recommend The Damnation Game for any connoisseurs of the horror genre. You really can't go wrong with Clive Barker. Now, I await Weaveworld!
- gzl5ry "Always open to something new, but my favorite genres are horror, sci-fi/fantasy with more of a leaning toward fantasy."