A mega-anthology of (mostly) excerpts from novels and plays by the popular and critically acclaimed horror writer whose increasingly ambitious work keeps pushing against genre boundaries. "Private Legends," Barker's detailed introduction, offers interesting revelations about pivotal moments in his youth that influenced his development as writer, painter, and filmmaker; it also firmly distances the author from the realistic tradition and sturdily defends what he rather grandly calls "the fantastique." The book is arranged in 13 sections representing favorite themes. "Doorways," for example, presents entries into other worlds, in a florid (and lurid) passage from the play Paradise Street and a chilling snippet from the novel The Great and Secret Show (1990). Standouts include a riveting story, "The Forbidden," which became the brilliant horror film Candyman; several evocative scenes from Barker's underrated visionary novel Sacrament (1996); and memorable passages from two masterpieces: Cabal (1988) and The Damnation Game (1987). Barker's best fiction should be read in its entirety; still, this generous collection offers seductive proof of the redoubtable imaginative power of one of our boldest inventors.