CLive Barker CabalClive Barker
Pocket Books
1989

Funny thing about this particular book: In Clive Barker’s native England (the author has since moved to Los Angeles, I can only assume because the weather doesn’t suck as badly), Cabal was published as a stand-alone novel. Or novella. Or whatever. Here in the States, Cabal was published bundled with most of what is essentially the sixth volume in the Books of Blood collections of Mr. Barker’s short stories, sans the final book-ender tale “On Jerusalem Street (A Postscript)” for some reason. I really don’t known what the logic behind that was, really, but that’s beyond the point.

What is part of the point that is this sad confluence of words I’m using to write this review is that one of the short stories included in the sixth Book of Blood volume was “The Last Illusion”, which was the basis for the 1995 movie Lord Of Illusions. And since my copy was one of the “movie tie-in” editions reprinted in 1995, the mass paperback that I bought from 1/2 Price Books utilized the movie poster for the cover, and since I like to use the artwork of whatever edition I have personally as the corresponding image in the review. Anyway…

The lead-in story, “Cabal”, is a story about a young man that suffers from a weird mental ailment, and is being manipulated by his psychiatrist into thinking he’s committed murders he doesn’t remember doing. He’s also dreaming about a sanctuary city of monsters collectively known as the Night Breed, and decides to try and find this place himself. And then he does. And the citizens of this monster city doesn’t take too kindly to a human potentially leading other humans there to decimate the place. Which totally happens. Wackiness ensues. This story was made into the film Nightbreed back in 1990, written and directed by Clive Barker himself, and completely ruined by the studio execs before release. You should check out the story behind that, it’s rather interesting in and of itself. But, moving along…

As to the stories from the sixth volume of the Books Of Blood: “The Life of Death” finds a cancer survivor finding herself the carrier of an ancient plague after exploring the ruins of an old church, then running afowl of some guy she mistakes as the embodiment of Death; in “How Spoilers Bleed”, a group of European land developers discover what happens when they push a South American tribe too far (hint-it doesn’t end well at all); “Twilight at the Towers” can be summed up by the phrase “Soviet Russian Werewolves”; and “The Last Illusion”, the one made into the film Lord Of Illusions, a PI is recruited to watch over the body of a magician to make sure demons don’t try and steal the body.

Once again, I found the Cabal collection to be a nice macabrely entertaining set of stories that showcases Clive Barker’s tremendous imagination. This one was always the elusive one to get for the collection, and I was glad to have found it. Though, I wouldn’t mind getting the original British publications, just to have the missing “On Jerusalem Street”. Otherwise, a good collection of short stories from an exceptional mind.

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