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SACRAMENT by Clive Barker

SACRAMENT

By Clive Barker

Pub Date: July 31st, 1996
ISBN: 0-06-017949-X
Publisher: HarperCollins

 Another ambitious and challenging dark fantasy from the popular author (Imajica, 1991; Everville, 1994, etc.) and filmmaker (Hellraiser), who is almost single-handedly elevating supernatural fiction to new levels of both literacy and intensity. Barker begins in characteristic fever-pitch fashion, with a horrific extended tableau set in the frozen wasteland of Canada's Hudson Bay, where famed wildlife photographer Will Rabjohns is mauled and nearly killed by a polar bear. Sunk in a coma, Will dreamily relives his early years in England: the death of his much- loved (and favored) older brother, his lonely childhood in a small English village, and his fateful and formative encounter with a pair of otherworldly recluses, Jacob Steep and Rosa McGee. Jacob, a self-styled ``Death's Agent'' committed to changing the shape of the world by destroying creatures that are ``the last of their kind,'' and Rosa, a kind of lamia who lures men to sex and to death, came to be accepted by the incipiently psychic Will as ``his connection to something bigger than the life he'd been leading.'' Recovered now from his bear wounds, Will returns to his home in an increasingly moribund San Francisco: He is gay, and he finds ever more friends and lovers dying. Then, in a provocative imaginative leap, he perceives that the destruction of animal species and the wholesale slaughter inflicted by the AIDS pandemic are akin and may spring from the same source--so he returns to England, seeking a reunion with Steep and McGee and the meaning of the riddle with which Jacob had encouraged Will's fascination with dying things: ``Living and dying, we feed the fire.'' By turns suspenseful, intellectually exciting, wildly melodramatic, turgid, and bombastic, Barker's novel is charged--in its complex development and surprising resolution--with very real, very human emotion. A weirdly absorbing and entertaining tale that offers more disturbing delights from one of our most inventive and risk-taking writers. ($175,000 ad/promo; author tour; TV and radio satellite tour)