Perhaps not the best jumping-on point into Barker’s twisted universe, but a fun, gory roller-coaster ride for horror fans...


Horror master Barker (Absolute Midnight, 2011, etc.) brings down the lights on two of his most enduring creations: the Cenobite hell priest Pinhead and private eye Harry D’Amour.

This long-awaited final chapter about characters that inspired the films of the Hellraiser series and Lord of Illusions may or may not satisfy the intense fan anticipation, but it’s still a hell of a spectacle. The novel opens as a group of magicians have resurrected one of their comrades from the dead. When Pinhead arrives to kill him again, he warns, “You are the last. After you, there’ll be no more games. Only war.” The survivors are massacred (except for one who becomes Pinhead’s slave), complete with gleefully gory descriptions of corporeal punishment. Meanwhile, Harry D’Amour is in New Orleans at the request of his blind friend, Norma Paine, who can speak to ghosts. While covering up a sex den for one of Norma’s deceased clients, Harry discovers a Lament Configuration—those would be the creepy puzzle boxes you might remember from Hellraiser or Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart (1986). This attracts Pinhead, who has now been banished from his order. Pinhead declares that Harry must bear witness to his “sublime labor” and write in his gospels of all the carnage to follow. To trigger Harry’s role in his final play, Pinhead kidnaps Norma and drags her to hell, forcing Harry and three friends to follow the demon into the breach. Once in the inferno, the ragtag band must navigate monsters, deadly fog, and the scorched landscape to follow their quarry to his final conflagration. This is graphic horror on a gargantuan scale but with some great character beats, too. When Harry growls, “This is between me and Pinfuck,” it’s a fist-in-the-air moment for Barker’s patient and passionate fans.

Perhaps not the best jumping-on point into Barker’s twisted universe, but a fun, gory roller-coaster ride for horror fans and a worthy ending for an iconic villain.

Pub Date: May 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05580-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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It's being called a novel, but it is more a hybrid: short-stories/essays/confessions about the Vietnam War—the subject that O'Brien reasonably comes back to with every book. Some of these stories/memoirs are very good in their starkness and factualness: the title piece, about what a foot soldier actually has on him (weights included) at any given time, lends a palpability that makes the emotional freight (fear, horror, guilt) correspond superbly. Maybe the most moving piece here is "On The Rainy River," about a draftee's ambivalence about going, and how he decided to go: "I would go to war—I would kill and maybe die—because I was embarrassed not to." But so much else is so structurally coy that real effects are muted and disadvantaged: O'Brien is writing a book more about earnestness than about war, and the peekaboos of this isn't really me but of course it truly is serve no true purpose. They make this an annoyingly arty book, hiding more than not behind Hemingwayesque time-signatures and puerile repetitions about war (and memory and everything else, for that matter) being hell and heaven both. A disappointment.

Pub Date: March 28, 1990

ISBN: 0618706410

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1990

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Told through the points of view of the four Garcia sisters- Carla, Sandi, Yolanda and Sofia-this perceptive first novel by poet Alvarez tells of a wealthy family exiled from the Dominican Republic after a failed coup, and how the daughters come of age, weathering the cultural and class transitions from privileged Dominicans to New York Hispanic immigrants. Brought up under strict social mores, the move to the States provides the girls a welcome escape from the pampered, overbearingly protective society in which they were raised, although subjecting them to other types of discrimination. Each rises to the challenge in her own way, as do their parents, Mami (Laura) and Papi (Carlos). The novel unfolds back through time, a complete picture accruing gradually as a series of stories recounts various incidents, beginning with ``Antojos'' (roughly translated ``cravings''), about Yolanda's return to the island after an absence of five years. Against the advice of her relatives, who fear for the safety of a young woman traveling the countryside alone, Yolanda heads out in a borrowed car in pursuit of some guavas and returns with a renewed understanding of stringent class differences. ``The Kiss,'' one of Sofia's stories, tells how she, married against her father's wishes, tries to keep family ties open by visiting yearly on her father's birthday with her young son. And in ``Trespass,'' Carla finds herself the victim of ignorance and prejudice a year after the Garcias have arrived in America, culminating with a pervert trying to lure her into his car. In perhaps one of the most deft and magical stories, ``Still Lives,'' young Sandi has an extraordinary first art lesson and becomes the inspiration for a statue of the Virgin: ``Dona Charito took the lot of us native children in hand Saturday mornings nine to twelve to put Art into us like Jesus into the heathen.'' The tradition and safety of the Old World are just part of the tradeoff that comes with the freedom and choice in the New. Alvarez manages to bring to attention many of the issues-serious and light-that immigrant families face, portraying them with sensitivity and, at times, an enjoyable, mischievous sense.

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-945575-57-2

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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