May 29, 2015

Book Review: The Scarlet Gospels
We don't usually review book around here, for a few different reasons, but I had to take a few minutes to talk about Clive Barker's new novel, The Scarlet Gospels. There will be mild plot spoilers blow, but we're keeping this one short and simple for the most part, so  we won't spoilt too much.

"The Scarlet Gospels takes readers back many years to the early days of two of Barker's most iconic characters in a battle of good and evil as old as time: The long beleaguered detective Harry D'Amour, investigator of all supernatural, magical, and malevolent crimes faces off against his formidable, and intensely evil rival, Pinhead, the priest of hell. Barker devotees have been waiting for The Scarlet Gospels with bated breath for years, and it's everything they've begged for and more. Bloody, terrifying, and brilliantly complex, fans and newcomers alike will not be disappointed by the epic, visionary tale that is The Scarlet Gospels. Barker's horror will make your worst nightmares seem like bedtime stories. The Gospels are coming. Are you ready?"

The final chapter in Pinhead's The Hell Priest's story has arrived. He's on a mission to take over hell and kill Lucifer himself, and it's up to Harry D'amour and friends to stop him... although they really can't, so it's basically up to Harry D'Amour and friends to survive if they can. *Oh, and for the record, Clive Barker hates the name Pinhead, and in fact he takes jabs at how stupid it sounds a few different times throughout this book.

The Scarlet Gospels was a fun read, at times a crazy read, and it truly went some places that I didn't expect it to. Once the story got to the point where everyone literally went to Hell, it felt like a non-stop fever dream come to life. The way that Hell was set up, its different inhabitants and hierarchy's, Lucifer, and the destruction of it all, is something that we're still trying to wrap our heads around.

Harry D'amour is a great character, and the small group of friends that he surrounds himself with are solid too, but it's really Pinhead's story that drove this book forward. He was on a mission in this book, and he cut his way through everything in his path to accomplish it. Along the way, things got messy, nasty, and downright twisted, which is par for the course for Clive Barker, so no surprise there.

Where the book left characters like Harry, Pinhead, and even Lucifer, at the end was interesting too. I won't spoil anything other to say that some of it wasn't anywhere near what I had expected, and there could definitely be a continuation to the story... or at least, a part of it.

On the negative side, things do get a bit hammy at times. I expected sharper lines and quotes from Pinhead, and some of the dialogue from the others fell off at times. Not natural enough. I also expected most of the Demons in hell to be a bit more fearsome, but they were portrayed like they were just another group of people, trying to get through life as well as they could. I suppose overall, that I wanted things to come off as a bit more nefarious and dire, and a lot of it felt far too "normal" to me. It kinda felt like "Earth on Hell" to reverse the popular idiom.

In my opinion, HBO should grab this one up and make an 8 Episode mini-series out of it. The book was nothing if not cinematic, and would make for some jaw-dropping programming, if the right network went about producing it in the right way. It's all wishful thinking, but hey, dreams are what keep us going!

The Scarlet Gospels was not quite the book that we expected it to be, then again, we're not really sure what we expected from it to begin with. We enjoyed most of it, loved the hell out of some of it, and felt a little bit underwhelmed by the rest of it. It's a good one, it's just not perfect.

If it sounds like something that you'd want to read, just give it a go.It's definitely worth a read.



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