REVIEW: Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker

REVIEW: Mister B. Gone by Clive BarkerMister B. Gone by Clive Barker
(narrated by Doug Bradley)
Published: HarperAudio (2007), Audiobook, 6hr30min
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, GLBTQ, Historical Fantasy, Horror

This bone-chilling novel, in which a medieval devil speaks directly to the reader, claims to be a never-before-published demonic memoir penned in the year 1438. The sole copy was, so the story goes, created by the inventor of the printing press, Johannes Gutenberg himself. But this historic piece of writing immediately vanished without a trace.

Until now…

A demon known as Jakabok has embedded his very self inside each word of this meticulously printed tale of autobiographical terror. The reader is taunted and teased by his pleas for release from the confines of the very ink and paper that provide the vehicle for his life story. Little do they know, the depths of horror they hold in their hands. Reader beware, indeed, as Jakabok (aka Mister B.) escorts you on an unforgettable journey into the ultimate origins of good and evil. (from Amazon)

I’m not sure how I got this audiobook pushed on me, since I’m not a huge Clive Barker fan and am only vaguely familiar with his works (although I did watch all the Hellraiser movies one October). I hadn’t read any of his books before, though I knew about his Abarat series, which looks really good, by the way. But anyway, it was indeed pushed upon me, and, uh, yeah. I liked it!

I was kind of surprised at how much I liked it, actually. Probably a lot of it was because of Doug Bradley’s reading, because he is fantastic. I could listen to him reading books to me all day. Oh yes. (And, yeah, he was Pinhead in the Hellraiser movies.)

The actual story is quite interesting, because it involves books and demons and neat stuff like that. It’s also quite gory, and at least twice it got so bad I had to take my earphones out and wait for it to go by. Think the first Hellraiser movie in terms of gore. If you can’t handle that movie, you probably won’t be able to handle the book (unless you skip forward like I did).

Here’s the thing. The book is very meta. A lot of things Jakabok talks about are in relation to the PHYSICAL book he’s in, that you’re supposed to be holding in your hands. But, uh, I was listening to the audiobook! So I can’t, y’know, burn the book. Because it’s in my iPod. And so a lot of the technique used in the paper book is lost in translation to audio.

Does it detract from the story? Maybe a little. It’s much less effective to have a demon begging you to burn his book when there is no book. On the other hand, I was still sufficiently creeped out when Jakabok spoke of being right behind me. I mean, I was so creeped out I did, in fact, actually turn around and check. So there’s that.

Overall, I would recommend Mister B. Gone for anyone who likes horror and metafiction, and I’d recommend the audiobook to anyone who likes having an excellent narrator along with the narrative. I really enjoyed it, and I’ll for sure check out Mr Barker’s other writings.

Read: ?-February 24, 2010

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