{Book Review} Cabal: Clive Barker

Cabal – Clive Barker

Reviewed by Michelle Enelen

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperVoyager; First UK Edition edition (1 Oct. 2008)

Everyone is someone else. Do your parents know what you’ve done as a lover? Could your boss paint an accurate portrait for your doctor? The media replays “He was a hard worker, always helping someone in the neighborhood”, “She kept to herself except to wave at the children” in response to someone’s family being discovered in pieces. Few have suspected their psychiatrist was hypnotizing them into a confession of multiple murders while creating a necessary scapegoat. Dr Decker is quite resourceful!

Boone is a broken man, though the rest of the population finds him attractive, he has always felt inadequate. Until he meets Lori, his tenacious lover. With her help, he has begun to believe love is possible. Like a cursed tattoo, once the words are created, they must be destroyed. Decker’s secrets need protecting, there’s no better patsy than the one already convinced of their guilt. He keeps Boone drugged, digging towards his full confession, always driving deeper the idea that he’s the only one that understands Boone, the only one that could possibly care. Despite the drugged haze, Boone cannot live with himself and decides to end it.

Lying in the hospital bed he meets the enigmatic Narcisse, who he begs to be taken to Midian. He’s heard that word before, a secret place that Boone connects with a sanctuary for people in pain. For monsters, corrects Narcisse, explaining that either you’re the beast or victim, there is nothing else. You gain the freedom to finally belong in Midian, the home of The Nightbreed.

Narcisse mistakenly thinks Boone is there to judge his worthiness, so he uses his hooks to remove the mask of his face. Boone wants to see the secret visage that is Midian worthy, but the uniforms make a grab for him. He slips the hands and pilfers through vehicles until he finds a map to point his way. He hitches a ride into the countryside, then walks, careful to avoid any traffic. There was nothing. Then there was Midian.

Lori refuses to accept that she didn’t know the real Boone. When his body disappears from the morgue, she searches for him, finding a new friend along the way. Decker follows because he still needs Boone. When Lori stumbles into Midian she saves a creature from the killing sunlight and unwittingly forms a bond with a child of The Breed. Despite the bond, Lori doesn’t belong in Midian, neither does Boone. Until Dr. Decker arrives, bringing with him The Mask.

From the beginning, Boone struggles to believe himself sane. Lori questions her mental state as she envisions morbid transgressions against his missing body. The man with the certificate of mental health, the one people pay for evidence of their mental fitness, has hidden away. The question for you, which one is the mask?

Zipper mouth, button eyes, running for her. She’d loved herself into a sweet sweat, fallen asleep dreaming of The Breed, knowing they were the answer to the question that was Boone. Her Catholic upbringing assured her sin, another piece of The Scourge. Awake, a simple sack is obscenely calling her name. Underneath is the man with the law and the church on his side. A uniform may be more convincing than a mask, something to ponder.

You have to decide where this ends up. I fell in love with this book because I identified with it so strongly. Wanting to be accepted by someone, needing to know I wasn’t the only one with thoughts others considered strange. When you’ve seen what’s behind the curtain you begin to question everything. If personal experience strangles you with disbelief of your own sanity you can’t help but feel alone. Stories offer you a place of refuge, a needed distraction when you’re trapped in your thoughts. Clive Barker is a world creator, a philosopher that guides you to question what is normal, what is good. Love and decay may not be the reward and the end. Justice, as well as beauty, is a matter of view. Those views often change as we make our way through life.

There is a side story here but of the same vein. When this book was first reviewed there were those that needed to rise above the regular people. Barker had his fun with them. The quotes in Cabal are not always sage words of philosophers past. The very first quote is by Domingo d’Ybarrondo, the clown he had written about years earlier. Imagine his mirth when critics referred to his imagined book, knowing they hid behind masks of falsified expertise.

Open this book, read about the severed god Baphomet, the creator of Midian. Understand the beauty and hope of being accepted by the extraordinary, given a home instead of becoming the nothing of worm food. Decide if you’ve been given enough information or if you’ve only had a sample.

Cabal, love story, cautionary tale, a book about becoming more than you believed and celebrating differences. How limited the world would be if all were bound by the same insights. Making your way through life seeing everything clearly would surely change us if no one could ever again hide behind a mask.


The nightmare had begun….

Boone knew that there was no place on this earth for him now; no happiness here, not even with Lori. He would let Hell claim him, let Death take him there.

But Death itself seemed to shrink from Boone. No wonder, if he had indeed been the monster who had shattered, violated and shredded so many others’ lives.

And Decker had shown him the proof – the hellish photographs where the last victims were forever stilled, splayed in the last obscene moment of their torture.

Boone’s only refuge now was Midian – that awful, legendary place in which gathered the half-dead, the Nightbreed…

You can buy Cabal from Amazon UKAmazon US

Michelle Enelen

Raised by Pentecostal preachers, horror was not a readily available commodity. As her love grew, her parents were occasionally summoned to school to talk about book reports and various projects that weren’t quite appropriate for her age. They were lost as to where she’d gotten such “trash”. Luckily for her, there was a librarian that understood her insatiable hunger for darker worlds. Even now, if she could, she’d live among the stacks.

Her penchant grew to include ghastly movies and music, which she’ll happily share with anyone listening. The love of horror continues with her favorite videogame, “House of the Dead, Overkill”. She’s not the best gamer, except when defending herself against the wrong monsters. Headshots are her speciality.

Twitter @falln468

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