Thursday, June 16, 2016

Clive Barker's Books of Blood: The Berkley Editions, 1986

June 1986 saw the first American paperback edition of the first volume of Clive Barker's unparalleled short-story collection Books of Blood. Vols. II and III followed later in the year (for those keeping score, August and October respectively). Sure, the covers were adorned with rubbery face-masks but there's no denying the power within, and the sober back-cover copy still delights. These are essential horror reads. As fellow Liverpudlian Ramsey Campbell writes in his intro:  

When it comes to the imagination, the only rules should be one's own instincts, 
and Clive Barker's never falters.


Professor Brian O'Blivion said...

Essential part of my late '80's horror literature experience. Clive was so dangerous compared to the stuff I'd read up till then.

Luis said...

Volume 2 of the Books of Blood, the very edition pictured here, was my introduction to Barker. I had been on a Lovecraft binge at the time so after his oblique descriptions of unseen horrors it was breath of fresh air to read Barker's in-your-face horror. At the time he really was the future of horror as Stephen King's quote says.

Jesse B. said...

Man, the copy on the backs of these books is killer. I just read the first three volumes of the Books of Blood for the first time back in April, and I adored them. Barker is a master.

Foster Medina said...

Really? Wow . . . compared to the original, Barker illustrated covers, these are horrendous. I wonder if it was a copyright thing, or just that US audiences weren't ready for such graphic imagery on their bookshelves.

Lincoln Brown said...

The original 'photo' covers on the true 1st editions (UK) are almost as bad as those above. Were replaced by the Barker illustrated covers, which are fantastic.

Zwolf said...

Ah, yeah, those covers. I was glad to get these books under any cover art, after hearing rumblings about them for months before they came out, but when I saw those covers I was a bit bewildered. Here they had one of the major publishing events of the decade as far as horror went, and the best they could do is pick up some Halloween masks from the close-out table at Dollar General and drape some fishing worms on 'em? Must've taken them all of half an hour to design those covers.

But what was between the covers, that's something different. I've since gotten those three in one hardback, and have recently gone back and bought the follow-ups... you can find used hardbacks of those ridiculously cheap now.

Padded Cell said...

I inherited volume three from my neighbor. I think now that her son must have been bothered by my good mood, but I figured she moved into an old age home or something.

I realized later that she *died* and her son was unloading all her extra stuff.

Naked Eye Studio said...

What did everyone think of the stories included? I have been looking to grow my collection!

Padded Cell said...

Most of the stories in the first three books are pretty good. Nowadays, those three are usually combined into a single paperback.

Several of the stories have been turned into movies, including The Midnight Meat Train, Rawhead Rex, and Dread.

(The Hellbound Heart [Hellraiser] is not part of the Books of Blood.)

Books four to six aren't quite as good. They're usually retitled The Inhuman Condition, In the Flesh, and Cabal.

The title story "Cabal" became the movie "Nightbreed."

"The Forbidden" (from In the Flesh) became Candyman.

Will Errickson said...

BOOKS OF BLOOD are essential to any horror collection! I've reviewed them elsewhere on this blog too

CrabbyCrib said...

I still haven't managed to tackle Books of Blood yet, even seeing old editions in a used bookstore a long time ago, cheap, only to pass them up for something else. How foolish we can be at times.

Padded Cell said...

I liked his novel "Imajica" more than any of the Books of Blood, but the stories are still pretty good.

Contrary to what I said before, books 1, 3, and 6 are probably the best.

I also recommend "The Thief of Always" even though it's supposed to be a kids' book.

(If you liked Neil Gaiman's "Coraline", you'll probably like Clive Barker's book.)