The Scarlet Gospels

Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 11 hrs and 3 mins
Categories: Fiction, Horror
4 out of 5 stars (782 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Scarlet Gospels takes listeners back many years to the early days of two of Barker's most iconic characters in a battle of good and evil as old as time: The long-beleaguered detective Harry D'Amour, investigator of all supernatural, magical, and malevolent crimes, faces off against his formidable and intensely evil rival, Pinhead, the priest of hell. Barker devotees have been waiting for The Scarlet Gospels with baited breath for years, and it's everything they've begged for and more.

Bloody, terrifying, and brilliantly complex, fans and newcomers alike will not be disappointed by the epic, visionary tale that is The Scarlet Gospels. Barker's horror will make your worst nightmares seem like bedtime stories. The Gospels are coming. Are you ready?

©2015 Clive Barker (P)2015 Macmillan Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Gory Spectacle and Fan Service for Hellraiser Fans

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Folks obsessed with the Hellraiser comic series and films would enjoy the Scarlet Gospells. Readers who enjoy depictions of gore for gore's sake might like it. Beyond that, Barker completionists, of which I'm one, may tolerate it but are unlikely to really enjoy it.

Has The Scarlet Gospels turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. I enjoy horror and fantasy, always have always will. It has warned me off Barker though. I've read pretty much everything he's ever written from short stories to the longest novels. He's rarely disappointed me, but this book is one of the exceptions to the rule.

What three words best describe John Lee’s voice?

Mr. Lee works too hard at differentiating characters with heavy handed accents and speech style affectations. They get distracting and don't contribute much to the story.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I'd have to say all three. At his best, Barker achieved transcendent story telling and rose beyond genre. Books like the Great and Secret Show and Imajica added to my own personal mythology and lifted me up beyond the mundane world to an almost spiritual high. This... the Scarlet Gospels... feels like pandering to the lowest common denominator of Barker fandom. I'm talking about the Hellraiser films, the scary monster gore fests that played on shock and striking visuals to terrify late adolescents and young adults on date night. The Scarlet Gospels doesn't have the naivety and fun of the Books of Blood, nor the vision of Imajica, nor the breadth of the tales of the Abarat. Instead, It came off feeling like fan-fic, not like it came from the pen of one of the masters of phantasmagorical fiction of our age. I felt cheated as I listened to it, almost as if I'd been duped and a ghost writer had been employed with Barker signing his name to it as an "executive author." I know that's not likely the case, but it's how it feels.

Any additional comments?

Finally, a word on Harry Damour. This character is wasted in this book. Harry's not much more than an analog for the reader, a witness to the events of the text. However, Harry's story was the one with some potential. I would pay to see a series on the life and trials of Harry Damour. He's always been a character more in Barker's head and intentions than one that's made it fully fleshed to the page and I'm sad to say, that remains the case despite his supporting role in this text.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Guys, I have a great idea for character voices...

Any additional comments?

Let's have John Lee pretend to be the Jerky Boys imitating Jerry Stiller for every single character that isn't Pinhead.

WHAT. WHY.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Meh... it was just ok.

I found the performance to be distracting from the story. In trying to make the characters have texture, the accents used were not aligned to the descriptions. I would have enjoyed it more if the were more appropriate. The "NY accent" was poor and Norma sounded like a yenta instead of an elderly black woman... too distracting for me.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I can't get past the narrator.

Would you try another book from Clive Barker and/or John Lee?

I am planning to delve into the Barker collection. I read "Hellbound Heart" many years ago, and I think Clive Barker is clever and original. I am sad that Pinhead's story arc doesn't get much play in any of the other stories (as far as I can tell). I would have loved to have the universe of Hell Priests expanded into a full history.

John Lee, on the other hand, was very disappointing as the narrator. I don't expect the narrator to come up with a voice for every character, so I never understand why narrators go out of their way to attempt voices and accents that are far beyond their range. With the core characters being of American origin, it was not a good idea to cast a narrator from the UK to attempt caricature American accents that wouldn't even sound good in a cartoon.

Every time he spoke as Harry, or, worse, Lana, it completely took me out of the story as both sounded like they should have been arguing in a Bronx deli over rye bread instead of how to defeat an onslaught of demons.

If you’ve listened to books by Clive Barker before, how does this one compare?

This is the first book I've listened to by Clive Barker. I'll listen to the others as long as Lee isn't the narrator.

How could the performance have been better?

If you can't do an accent, don't try. The listening audience isn't here for a theatrical performance. We're hear to listen to a story. If it's absolutely necessary that the characters have American accents, then use a narrator who is either American or can speak in an American accent.

Did The Scarlet Gospels inspire you to do anything?

Yes. I want to re-record it.

Any additional comments?

From what I've read about Barker and Pinhead, it seems like he doesn't want to do anything else with the character, which is fine. But, my hope is that he changes his mind someday and revisits the monastery with its many Hell Priests. I'd love to know its history and purpose.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good listen. Okay story. Disappointing for fans.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

New to Clive Barker and horror? Yes I would recommend.

Fans of Clive Barker? No. It would be disappointing for you.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Most: The prologue is strong. As well as the final battle Pinhead has.

Least Interesting: The journey INTO hell and the last scene of Pinhead.

Which scene was your favorite?

Prologue.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Yes, but it would never be a movie. Way to graphic.

Any additional comments?

Before I begin, I have to say I am a huge Clive Barker fan. Films, movies, and comics. Therefore I want to try to be unbiased. Here we go:

I just love Clive Barker's writing style. It is so eloquent. So wise. He uses words you don't hear much anymore. Some words would make you want to Google the definitions. Reading works like this only increases your own vocabulary. Being a fan, I am well aware with the mythos of the Hellraiser world. I've read the original novella, which I recommend by the way. Mr. Barker does not stick to rules he established in the Hellraiser films and his own novella. Which makes me thing: "what is this a sequel to? The film? The novella?" I still question that, sadly. I'll give two examples. They're not really spoilers. First is the puzzle box itself. In the novella, it's all black and shiny. The films have a wooden box with gold trim on all sides. Scarlet Gospels has the box from the films. Next, when the box is opened, a bell is chimed. This was in the films and the novella and occasionally in here. However, sometimes it's not.

*One Warning:
If you don't know his work, he can be very erotic and graphic. If you're not comfortable with sex, nudity, and profanity, you might have a problem with this book. But hopefully you know this already.

Overall this is a good book. I'd even say this book is better for newbies to Clive Barker than the fans. If you want a really good Clive Barker book, I recommend "M I finished it in 6 days and it was very much a page turner. I will re-read this in a couple months and see if the nostalgia and disappointment gave it only 3 stars.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Just not the Clive Barker I remember.

I had looked forward to this book but I'm kind of disappointed in it. The story just doesn't invoke the existential dread and horror a previous Clive Barker books I've enjoyed. Oddly the locale of Hell, in which part of the book takes place, seemed rather flat and unimpressive. The first few chapters had showed a great deal of promise but the book rapidly became rather bland after that.
The narrator has a pleasant voice to listen to during his narrations but when he reads as dramatis personae he tends to follow a little flat. D'Amour and the Harrower's, bar none, all tend to sound like 76 year old Jewish men regardless of age or gender.
it seems I will have no trouble going to sleep tonight after listening to this. A shame really, I had been hoping to relive the feelings reading Cabal or Weave World or The Books of Blood again.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Terrible Narration

I had to take a break from this book. The story itself isn't bad, but the narrator is terrible. He makes it very difficult to continue listening. Sometimes I found myself laughing out loud at how absolutely horrible his characters were.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not Good

Would you try another book from Clive Barker and/or John Lee?

Not from John Lee. His voices of different people are often cartoonish.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

This book ends with a fizzle instead of a bang. Clive just seems to be wrapping up some pieces in his more popular storylines.

How could the performance have been better?

More realistic voicings.

Could you see The Scarlet Gospels being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

It would make a horrible movie. Once you show hell, you remove a lot of the scare of it.

Any additional comments?

I was disappointed because this book deals with two of my favorite Clive Barker characters. They both are shown to be amazingly dismal characters.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Action Pinhead vs "Scott Backula with a bad NYC accent" and his LBGT superfriends

The story was engaging, but in a video game sort of way and the one note "beat cop" protagonist did put a drag on whole thing. Pinhead is the real star of the show, and I wish there was more of the Hell Priest and less of "Scott Backula". The graphic details do drag on in some parts, because it feels like Barker is really trying to one up his gory performance in Hellbound Heart.

This story is great if you need some good pulp to carry you through the hours of the day, but be warned the gore isn't for the faint of heartbreaker and should probably be listened to in private or with headphones.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

It was good but not amazing

The Scarlet Gospels was good and entertaining. However, I really wanted this to be better. Clive Barker's major strength is his vision of horror and hell. That being said his major weakness is that he's a weak writer his characters lack depth almost in the extreme and prose are weak. What's most frustrating is that his characters will leave you with more questions than answers. Most of the time your going to be scratching your head wondering " Why the hell did this guy just do that?" . With Clive Barker the most your going to get is cheap shocks from sexual violence. I think this book couldn't decide if it wanted to be an adventure or horror novel. A much better novel would be God's Demon by Wayne Barlowe.

13 people found this helpful