The Books Of Blood Advent Calendar
How Spoilers Bleed
Gary J. Van Lare
How Spoilers Bleed
“There were half a dozen other graves here. All Europeans, to judge by the names crudely burned into the wooden crosses; killed by snakes, or heat, or longing.” – Clive Barker
Welcome to the Jungle!
Mr. Barker tends to take us to many wonderful, magical, bizarre and utterly terrifying landscapes. Quite often the reader finds themself wandering dark, damp city streets, searching for refuge from some unimaginable entity, or turning a corner and coming face to face with complete calamity. However, in this particular short story Mr. Barker brings us to the unfamiliar (and quite unpredictable) terrain of the Amazon Jungle.
I’ve read all of the Books of Blood, multiple times, and when I first began to read How Spoilers Bleed, I was a little underwhelmed to find myself brought into the jungle, and not again seated comfortably in the arms of Clives’ familiar terrain. I wasn’t sure what to expect, however I was soon pleasantly rewarded with fast paced, expertly detailed (of course!) short fiction. The unfamiliar setting actually proved to create a nice variation for quick building anxiety and a desire to move through the trees and the vines, to see where this story goes next.
In How Spoilers Bleed, we are first introduced to the cause before the concern, which in my opinion, can be taken as a cop out for quick “grip” on the reader, as opposed to if the story slowly revealed the imminent horror, thus building the suspense. In the case of this particular story, revealing the infliction before the inflictor causes quite the enticement to push forward.
We are presented with a handful of main characters in this short story, and amongst these it is not immediately clear who the good guys versus the bad guys are, but that is revealed quickly to the reader with a nice character study of our mains. Ultimately, this boils down to a tale of greed and exploited land acquisition. One where the buyer certainly should have been warned of the unfavourable circumstances that would soon arise, however, being blinded by greed to no moral apprehension is usually the way of the human condition. Let’s just say that when you take something by force, there is usually some form of resistance from the opposition. In this case we are dealing with a curse, hex, or some form of passing from one onto the other a damning condition. The effects of the condition present itself in a truly unique and terribly graphic way. You’ll have to read the story to dive deeper into the dark details, as I am trying to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, because after all–and certainly after reading this story–we learn “How Spoilers Bleed…”
Overall, this story definitely sticks with you in the end. It has earned its place in my ranks of Barkers shorts. However, don’t expect the caliber of The Forbidden or The Last illusion, stories where we form a bond with the characters and mourn for their losses and troubles. Although the depth of the characters in How Spoilers Bleed isn’t particularly deep, there is still enough individuality and unique development between them to favour wins and losses, and sometimes root for damnation.
Gary J. Van Lare
Gary J Van Lare is a modern Renaissance man. As a talented musician, avid reader, poet, burgeoning novelist, craftsman, and iron fabricator his skills show no bounds. Gary finds great inspiration in his favorite authors: Clive Barker and Stephen King, though he has recently been dabbling in classical horror. He spends his spare time with his loving wife, daughter, and annoying cat. He is happiest when surrounded by loved ones with a cup of cold beer in hand. Gary currently resides in Windsor, Ontario.