Cabal

by Clive Barker

“The sun rose like a stripper, keeping its glory well covered by cloud till it seemed there’d be no show at all, then casting off its rags one by one.”

Boone, a possible serial killer undergoing intense therapy, has his world turned upside down as the crimes come to light and he becomes a hunted man taking refuge in the lost and eerie town of Midian as the law closes in.

One of the more unique vampire novels you can read, Cabal has its monsters. They’re teeming all over the pages throughout the entire book, have cock-sure, mean spirited stupidity in their hearts and are 100% human. In contrast the Nightbreed creatures are mysterious, covert, and fiercely protective of their sanctuary underneath the town. Both groups are merciless.

Barker does it again here, like Chiliad and much of the Books of Blood, examining human characteristics and not really painting us in the best of lights. He strives for a brutal honesty with this style of writing using fantastic elements to emphasize his views. Many of the stereotypes that have been driven into the ground by authors capitalizing on teenage girly-horror were identified and turned on their heads by Barker here with his particular brand of the forbidden relationship. This story isn’t a point to point barn-burner but a thinker’s novel, though it maintains a good, solid pace.

A grim and ponderous novel, Cabal stands alone within the vampire genre. There isn’t a glamorous sight to be seen, the occult takes downstage left, the humans are worse than the devils and even Baphomet himself has a strong, mostly-positive presence. The book is excellent.

4 stars

 

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