The Books Of Blood Advent Calendar
“There is no delight the equal of dread. As long as it’s someone else’s.” – Clive Barker
Back in 1997, I was a huge fan of Hellraiser. To be honest, I still am. That film, and it’s sequel, Hellbound, rank as two of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen. Back then, there was nothing remotely like those movies, and certainly nothing as scarily perverse as the original four Cenobites. I recall having a poster of Pinhead on my wall for quite a few years!
Needless to say, the tale of that puzzle box, and the dark desires it could satisfy, made me a lifelong fan of Clive Barker. So, when I got the chance to write an article about one of the stories from Books of Blood, I quickly expressed interest and bagsied my favourite: Dread.
In 1988, a college friend of mine loaned me her boyfriend’s Books of Blood collection. For six weeks, I would receive a volume to devour over the coming weekend. And devour them, I did.
Those six volumes had a massive impact on me, the cover art was both disturbing and gorgeous, a lot like the content within. Clive Barker’s short stories blew my young, horror-loving mind. None so much as Dread. That’s the tale I can recall vividly after all these years. That story left scars; wonderful wounds that I don’t think will ever heal, and I’m glad about that!
In my humble opinion, Dread is a horror masterpiece. It’s a tale that scares me in so many ways. Reading it again after so many years was an absolute joy, as time has done nothing to diminish this story’s impact.
For those of you that have yet to read it, let me give you a brief introduction to this disturbing yarn…
Stephen Grace is a university student who became deaf for a period of his childhood. Naturally, he’s afraid of growing deaf again.
Cheryl Fromm is a vegetarian who finds even the mere sight of meat repulsive.
Quaid is a student who is very interested in studying dread.
The experiments that follow are truly terrifying. I’m not going to spoil things for the folks who have yet to dive into Books of Blood, but whenever I read the section concerning Cheryl, I find it both heartbreaking and very disturbing. The way Barker describes what is shown in Quaid’s photographs is excellently done and truly terrifying to read.
Thing is, Dread just keeps on getting more and more terrifying. Seriously, once it gets going, this short story doesn’t let up.
And that ending is just perfect.
Going back to Books of Blood after all these years has reminded me how bloody good this collection of the macabre and horrific really is. The stories within stand the test of time, and remain some of the best tales of terror ever written.
As for Dread? Yeah, it is still my favourite. I bloody love it, and I’m not scared to admit it.
As for what I really dread, that’s gonna remain a secret!
For now, I will admit to being scared by Clive Barker’s horror stories, and that ain’t no bad thing.
Simon Paul Wilson is a U.K. based writer of horror and science fiction.
He is currently writing a cyberpunk horror trilogy, the first of which is GhostCityGirl and was published by Not A Pipe publishing in 2020.
Click this link for more info: Ghost City Girl
There now follows a list of writers who have influenced his reading tastes and writing style:
James Herbert. Stephen King, Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, China Mieville, Haruki Murakami, Carlton Mellick III, Brian Keene, and Adam Nevill.
Simon lives somewhere in the middle of England with his wonderful family. He likes to listen to post-rock and progressive rock at loud volumes. He also plays a mean air bass.
Follow him on Twitter: @spwzen