Clive Barker returns to adult fiction for the first time in years with Mister B. Gone (HarperCollins, 248 pages, $24.95), a devil of a tale that throws out a warning to the reader right at the start...
"BURN THIS BOOK...
"Go On. Quickly, while there's still time. Burn it. Don't look at another word. Did you hear me? Not. One. More. Word."
The narrator, Jakabok Botch, lives in Hell. Literally. He is a demon, spawned from demons. And he spends another page and a half trying to convince readers to ditch the book and get on with their lives.
His dysfunctional demon family includes his abusive father, Pappy Gattmus, his Momma and his younger sister, Charyat.
"Oh Damnation, he was ugly!" Jakabok says about his father. "At the best of times the sight of him was enough to make children run away screaming, and old devils clutch at their hearts and drop down dead. It was as if every sin he'd ever committed had left its mark on his face. His eyes were small, the flesh around them puffy and bruised. His mouth was wide, like a toad's mouth, his teeth stained yellowish-brown and pointed, like the teeth of a feral animal. He stank like an animal too, like a very old, very dead animal."
He goes on for 20 more pages trying to convince the reader to burn the book. It's a clever gimmick; kept me reading.
After a particularly ugly episode with the parents, Jakabok and Pappy G. get caught up in a net and are pulled up through the Circles of Hell (they live in the Ninth), and just before they get the surface, Jakabok cuts his father's rope. Pappy falls and falls and falls, and Jakabok gets pulled up into the World Above.
I shall leave the rest for brave readers to enjoy...
Happy Halloween Eve!