by Clive Barker
“This was my father you just murdered!”
“Yes. I see the resemblance.”
Originally published as 6 very short short stories, Tortured Souls was written to back up a line of 6 toys Barker released. These backstories helped fill out the characters of his toys and work together surprisingly well considering their origins.
Agonistes, a creature created by God and answerable to no one but, transforms willing people into powerful monstrosities for various reasons but mostly to facilitate the individual’s revenge of some sort. The transformation is akin to torture where many of the willing ‘supplicants’ beg for death before the process is complete. In history Agonistes has granted only one such reprieve–to Judas Iscariot.
This collection follows a hired assassin who after a mission is convinced by his victim’s daughter to undergo the transition and cleanse the corrupt city. Kreiger, after returning from the change, dispatches the entire city’s ruling population in a single night. The rest of the book details the relationship between the daughter, who undergoes the change herself, and the assassin, as well as the political fallout after the ruling elite are no more.
Far better than expected the narrative is straight through the six stories, contains Barker’s trademark unapologetic and visceral gore, and is a very enjoyable but extremely short read.