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5.0 out of 5 starsBeautiful Depravity
Reviewed in the United States on July 19, 2019
I went into this novella knowing its origins, as little "chapters" included with a line of collectible horror figures, so I wasn't sure if I was going to get a cohesive narrative, but boy howdy did I ever! I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. It was dark and gruesome, but also with a surprising amount of emotion and pathos. To me it was classic Barker. And I didn't feel shortchanged in the slightest with the length. It was as long as it needed to be and left me feeling satisfied.
5.0 out of 5 starsTransendent in it's alien world that belongs to Clive, alone.
Reviewed in the United States on July 7, 2016
The Hellraiser saga continues to get more fleshed out. Tender and sweet at times, brutal and visceral at others, Clive to the bone. This is a tale before the Hell Priest (aka Pinhead), it is a beginning to The Order of the Gash, but probably not the only beginning. This is a bone crushing horror and a tender love story of power, rage, and ennui. If you love Hellraiser or just Clive, I suggest you also read the comics, Hellraiser, Pinhead, Books of the Damned, The Dark Watch, just to name a few. As well as the books, The Hellbound Heart and The Scarlet Gospels, they all transport you to that world of damnation and bliss, the secrets of the flesh.
3.0 out of 5 starsWish it was longer and more detailed.
Reviewed in the United States on January 16, 2015
I generally enjoy all of Clive's fiction, but this one struck me as a little bare bones. The writing was, of course, good, but it seemed like the condensed version of a much larger and more detailed novel. Everything needed to be more fleshed out. Better than 75% of the horror out there, but not up to Mr. Barker's stratospheric standards.
Tortured Souls is a slightly unusual project from Clive Barker. The story was divided into six parts and each part was included with a figure from the Tortured Souls collection. These figures were brought to life by Todd McFarlane (creator of Spawn) and were based on the characters from the story.
We are taken to the decadent and putrid city of Primordium, which is ruled by cruel and corrupt leaders. No one man can stand up to them; no one, that is, until an assassin, Zarles Kreiger, is offered the opportunity. Before he has a chance, he must first be reshaped at the hands of a man named Agonistes. Legend has it that Agonistes was created by an exhausted God on the seventh day, and given terrible gifts. He shares these terrible gifts with those who come to him, offering either death or excruciating transformation. Through each chapter in the book we are introduced to a new tortured soul as the story of Primordium develops. The other characters are Talisac, a sick doctor working for the leaders of the city; his creation, Venal Anatomica; and his child, Mongroid.
This is classic Clive Barker, revealing his familiar obsessions with transformation of the flesh, sado-masochism, love, and sexuality throughout. From the tormented descriptions of the transformed, there is more than a little cenobite in them. Although the transformed are agents of revenge and death, there is also a surprisingly strong bond of love between Krieger, also known as the Scythe-Meister, and Lucidique. Despite their vile appearances to the rest of the world, they find beauty in each other and are perfect together as lovers and companions – a wonderfully taboo intimacy.
Barker has created a fantastic world in this novella, rich and full of vibrant characters. The only drawback with the novella is that it’s a novella. After reading this, I think of how much more could be told from this world. It sparks the imagination and leaves you wanting more. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that there will be a follow up, as this originally came out in 2001. There was a second series of the figures created by Barker and McFarlane which did not include any additional story and there was also talk of a film adaptation that never came to fruition.
3.0 out of 5 starsinteresting, but he forgot to tie in to any reality
Reviewed in the United States on November 15, 2017
Kinda a campfire story feel to it. The characters have no relation to anyone that you could possibly imagine interacting with. Usually Barker gives you some kind of touchstone with the mundane universe, even if it is tenuous. If you find anyone in this book relate-able in even the remotest way, you might need to have the bindings on your straight jacket adjusted to allow a little more oxygen to your brain.
3.0 out of 5 starsSo many great characters, but he didn't seem to know what to do with them.
Reviewed in the United States on September 17, 2019
As said above, so many great characters but the author just didn't put any effort in are a great story for them. Pain, killing and sex doesn't make a great story without purpose. Barker knows that I wonder if he just lost interest in his characters and story and just gave up. Pity, the story had lots of potential.
I liked the small vignettes about each new character. They came together nicely. I really would have loved to know more about the whole city of Primordium. I think there is a lot more there to tell about.
3.0 out of 5 starsNot to different yet, not at all bad.
Reviewed in the United States on March 25, 2018
Long time fan of Barker since childhood. This reminded me of earlier works which is obvious as soon as you start. The sexually represented sadomasochistic tendencies of the characters are the norm. I was more interested in Primordium, the first city. Which is my only real let down and why this was not a four star rating. Was entirely to bloody short. With so much potential to dive in to the lore and mystique of the first city and, it's other denizens with no follow up just seemed like to much was lost. However still recommend for a light evening read for those who appreciate Mr. Barker unique style.