Books of Blood: Volume 2 by Clive Barker

Books of Blood Anthologies


To a surgeon, cutting into the human body is an art. Muscle and flesh are his canvas, the scalpel his tool. He studies the composition of the organs -- their balance and form -- the structure of the bones and network of blood vessels. He makes his incision, cutting, slicing with loving care. — Clive Barker is another type of surgeon. — He understands the human body too. He knows how the nerves send impulses to a riveted brain. And he knows how the hot blood surges through veins and arteries under a thin membrane of skin.

And then gushes out...

Five stories of horror and intrigue include, "Dread," "Hell's Event," "Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament," "The Skins of the Fathers," and "New Murders in the Rue Morgue." 

“With the inevitability of a tongue returning to probe a painful tooth, we come back and back and back again to our fears, sitting to talk them over with the eagerness of a hungry man before a full and steaming plate.”

A mixed bag of short stories - not as good as the first volume, but most of the stories were still impressive.

Unfortunately the first short story, Dread, wasn't too my liking. Strange since I usually love the book of blood stories, but it was weird and just kind of pointless. A man obsessed with fear trials takes it too far to make his point.

Hell's Event was my favorite of the group. A charity race held every hundred years where the contest winnings could literally mean the end of the world as Hell unleashes its fury - but all the contestants don't know that. Some of the key players have it rigged to turn out demented, of course, but the main character is a diverse individual who comes across fresh and well-rounded. It's dark and demented and twisted but awesome and well-written to boot.

Jacqueline Ess was an interesting take on a woman who comes into her own power and then takes it to a demented level. Told with multiple shifts from a man who became obsessed with a woman he shouldn't and the woman herself. Filled with blood-drenched sexual scenes and bizarre twists on a traditional love story, the ending is a disturbing twist that imprints on the mind.

The Skins of the Fathers started a little slow and hard to get into but ultimately was satisfying. Creatures have come out to attack but there is not a horrible and monstrous backstory with them, but with humans instead. It became fascinating and of course sad.

New Murders in the Rue Morgue may pay homage to the original story and involves a primate, but it didn't hold my interest as much as some of the others. Still well-done and imaginative enough.

Even if the first was a bit better, Clive Barker just rocks with short fiction and all the Books of Blood installment are recommended.

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