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Books of Blood (Volume 2)


Clive Barker

Books of Blood (Volume 2)
average rating is 4 out of 5

Horror, Short Stories, Supernatural

R. Alex Jenkins

Books of Blood Volume 2 is totally worth your time and just as good as Volume 1.

The only story I didn't enjoy was Hell's Event, which didn't resonate with me at all.

The first story, Dread, is genuinely sinister and malicious. You know those beguiling people you sometimes meet, so full of character, but with something not quite right about them? Don't go visiting their houses any time soon, especially if they live in the middle of nowhere and definitely not if other people associated with them start disappearing. This is a story about how people react under extreme duress and go past their breaking point. It's also a story about revenge.

There's a cosmic horror element about this entire volume, with references to Edgar Allan Poe and indirect terror in the background rather than upfront guts and gore. Definitely more H.P. Lovecraft than splatterpunk.

There's also a lot of non-explicit sex. The last three stories are all about it.

Jacqueline Ess is a great little yarn, probably my favourite. Jacqueline is able to control her mind and inflict punishment on men who don't please her or who have abused her. She's not a malicious person, just very unwell, while deeply attracted to men who are even more attracted to her to the point of obsession. There's an element of The Picture of Dorian Gray in this story, a macabre sense of lust and possession and an almost medieval baseness about it. Men are essentially satyrs, drunkenly running around to satisfy their sexual desires, with Jacqueline Ess the ultimate feminist story of control at any cost, including personal happiness or pleasure.

The Skins of the Fathers is another strange little tale, reminiscent of the 'In The Hills, The Cities' from Volume 1. This is a sceptical story about the brutality and stupidity of mankind and how we all deserve to rot in our own self-made hells, while spirits and devils carry on as before throughout eternity, oblivious to our petty lives. There's bullying, wife-beating, child abuse and harassment and yet more very weird sexual encounters with multitudinal 20-ft 'divils'. I enjoyed it a lot. It's reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy and the desert, which leads us to the final story and a possible reference to 'No Season (country) for Old Men'.

New Murders in The Rue Morgue, set in Paris, is a type of crime thriller, but again, with very sexual overtones, domineering males and overt jealousy, including mincing men, red-haired prostitutes and 70-year-old lovers... as yet another weird and sordid and very readable Clive Barker creation.

A great volume but not quite five stars. You get a terrific insight into the mind of Clive Barker and all his crazy ideas and obvious personal depravity. I love him.

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