Like many people, I got "The Hellbound Heart" because I was already a fan of "Hellraiser" and wanted to see what Clive Barker's original literary draft was like. If you've seen the movie, you'll already be familiar with what goes on in the book, as the two are surprisingly similar to each other. Libertine Frank obtains a mysterious puzzle box (although here it's in Germany, rather than some nameless Asian country), and unlocks it to open the world of the Cenobites, strange demons who intermingle pain and pleasure together. Frank is trapped in the dark world of the Cenobites, somewhere in his former home. In comes Rory and Julia, Frank's brother and his new wife (whom Frank had engaged in a brief affair with), as they move into Frank's place. Rory spills some of his blood in Frank's room, which gives him an edge away from the Cenobite world. Contacting Julia, Frank convinces her to bring men back to the house for him to kill. Kirstie (who is here Rory's friend, rather than his daughter) is sent to see if Julia is up to something, and encounters not only Frank but his box. If you've seen the movie, you know where it goes from here. If you haven't, going any further would only lead into spoilers. Some of the lines from the movie will be recognized by die-hard fans, including Pinhead's famous "No tears, please - it's a waste of good suffering."
As a work in and of itself, "The Hellbound Heart" is a decent read. It's definitely not like a lot of horror literature: despite the violent subject matter, it certainly doesn't read like a lot of the "splatterpunk" you see today, and the demonology is, like in the movie (at least the first one), focused more on reflecting the human characters than having scary monsters running around screaming "BOO!" Much of the detail seems surprisingly limited in the world, especially the world of the Cenobites. What does get shared is interesting, mind you, but how the various parts of it functions (for example, with the Engineer) seem to be told with scanty details. One almost thinks that Clive Barker could have expanded on the world of the Cenobites far more than he did, as the movie's sequels ended up doing (with varying degrees of success). One thing I will say is that the effects of the cube on Kirstie are actually better realized in the story than in the movie: in the story, it describes how the Cenobites remain around her, even if only in the shadows, or in her subconscious. She could literally feel the madness surrounding her, even as she left the hospital and was walking around. It was a nice touch that I actually wish had been better captured in the movie. (Before anyone comments... yes, I'm well aware of the limitations of various mediums, I'm not saying this somehow ruins the opinion of the movie for me.) I will admit that Kirstie being Rory's daughter in the movie made her feel more connected to the chain of events, whereas in this story she's literally just a close friend who ends up getting caught up between Frank's little love triangle.
If you're a big "Hellraiser" fan, by all means pick this up. If you want to read horror, but something a little on the lighter side, this will definitely please you as well. I recommend it.