Genre: Horror / Dark Fantasy
Length: 164 pages
Publisher: Harper Perrenial
First Published: 2007
This book is definitely not for the light hearted. Luckily, I am not one of those, and I definitely enjoyed it. It isn't the type of book I'd normally pick up and read, but it was highly recommended to me. I am more than glad I read it. I have been opened up to a whole new world of literature, one that Clive Barker truly owns right next to Palahniuk and King in the list of Best Horror Novels.
"Clive Barker is widely acknowledged as the master of nerve-shattering horror. The Hellbound Heart is one of his best, one of the most dead-frightening stories you are likely to ever read, a story of the human heart and all the great terrors and ecstasies within." (GoodReads)So where should I even start with this book? This book is probably a prime example of why there is a love of horror in all of us. It will transcend the way we think about life. Horror has a way of giving us an outlook on life that not only brings wisdom but allows us to enjoy the better part of actually living a calm and graceful life. Clive Barker definitely does that with this novel.
There is one quote in particular that I'd like to bring up. It completely exemplifies what this book was for me. It says it all.
“Spring, if it lingers more than a week beyond its span, starts to hunger for summer to end the days of perpetual promise. Summer in its turn soon begins to sweat for something to quench its heat, and the mellowest of autumns will tire of gentility at last, and ache for a quick sharp frost to kill its fruitfulness. Even winter — the hardest season, the most implacable — dreams, as February creeps on, of the flame that will presently melt it away. Everything tires with time, and starts to seek some opposition, to save it from itself.”What Clive Barker does with this book is show us that we all seek and reach for more than we bargain for because of our imperfection to always want more, in more diverse and sometimes insidious ways. This novel is the story of Frank Cotton and his immense bordem with all his conquests of pleasure that he seeks the ultimate sexual experience. Hence the "dark exploration of the pursuit of pleasure."
What happens is Frank ends up jaded, unfulfilled, and wanting more extreme sexual experiences. Conventional sexual activity leaves him unsatisfied and even more so completely under stimulated. Does Clive Barker have great imagination? Is he merely reflecting real life? Or is it, in fact, a parody of our modern life to always seek the next level of sexual experience combined with our fascination for horror?
It's a world of dark morbid indulgences. A world in which pleasure and pain have an almost nonexistent boundary. Pain can be an euphoric experience. Pleasure can be quite a painful experience. In The Hellbound Heart the line between pleasure and pain is blurred to the point that two are one and the same.