Book Reviews of The Hellbound Heart

The Hellbound Heart
The Hellbound Heart
Author: Clive Barker
ISBN-13: 9780061002823
ISBN-10: 0061002828
Publication Date: 11/1/1991
Pages: 176
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 89 ratings
Publisher: HarperTorch
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

14 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 356 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Excellent and thrilling tale, the basis for the "Hellraiser" films.
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A lot creepier than its bastard movie offspring, Hellraiser.
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 63 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Excellent absolutely excellent.
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Classic Clive Barker
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 45 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
One of Barkers best short novel.
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on
Helpful Score: 1

The choice of title is interesting in this famous early, career-starting and DVD-spawning novella in which the characters and the reader, all at different speeds, descend into an unspeakable abyss, word by word ... word by word. The blurb on the book goes on about all the aspects of the heart captured by the work, and this is fair enough, especially given the last paragraph or so, where "other" inter-dimensional artifacts are optimistically imagined by a character, as these would lead to paradise, and not the realm of the Cenobites, the Order of the Gash, which does not lend itself to a direct analogy with the judeo-christian concept of "hell", although the Cenobites out-horrify even the medieval Christian hell paintings of Hieronymus Bosch.

There are characters, and they do what characters do in these horror novellas. But the most fascinating, and least-explained, concept in the story is: what about these Cenobites? This Order of the Gash? Obviously Frank Cotton misunderstood them, crucially (and incorrectly) assuming, that their concept of "pleasure" was in any way related to his own, basically human concept of pleasure. As in the Law, it all comes down to definitions. We get glimpses of these fascinating Cenobite characters, we know they are alien to the concept of empathy, that they are polite, that they are (in their way) fair, that they appear dedicated to eternal torture of themselves and others, and that there is an "Engineer" who designs torments and mysteriously appears at the end of the novella.

All in all, a shudder-inducing, sinking experience of a read, which whets one's appetite for more knowledge about the Cenobites (and the same time, an instinctive urge to purge them from one's mind and never remember them again).
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 63 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Gross, scary and disturbing. I've always wanted to read this particular novel for the fact that I am a fan of Hellraiser and a fan of anything with S&M elements, especially horror. I wanted the literary experience of the Cenobites. Rather than pictures on a screen, I wanted my own imagination. This book was great. Gorey imagery, lots of horror, crazy people doing crazy things, and sadistic Cenobites promising a realm of sensation and pleasure beyond belief. It was chilling and I had nightmares when I went to bed after finishing... a sign of a good horror novel.
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 6 more book reviews
A short but thrilling read; the first Hellraiser movie in novella form. Barker is a master storyteller of horror, so imaginative and fresh. Even if you've seen the movie this book is worth reading and owning. Fantastic horror.
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 207 more book reviews
Excellent absolutely excellent.
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 504 more book reviews
No tears, please. Its a waste of good suffering.

My boyfriend made the mistake of allowing me to pick out the movie on one of our earliest dates way back in the late 80s. I chose Hellraiser which was based upon this novella. I didnt know he had never seen a horror movie and couldnt figure out why he was so pale and quiet when we left the theater. The poor boy married me and his movie going experiences have never been the same and Ill always have fond feelings for Hellraiser. Recently I realized I had never read the novella it was based upon and decided to check it out.

When Frank solves a puzzle box revealing a door to another world promising great pleasure he gets more than he bargained for. He thought he had prepared well, observing every ritual to welcome the Cenobites, experimenters in the higher reaches of pleasure. He was expecting oiled up women, eager for him to use as he wished to slake his lust but instead four scarred beings arrive and alter him in unimaginable ways.

Meanwhile Franks brother Rory and his wife Julia are moving into a decrepit old house. The house was willed to both Rory and Frank but since Frank is missing Rory assumes possession. Julia and Frank had something going on way back when, if you know what I mean, and Rory ignores her misgivings about the house and remains blissfully ignorant while reveling in Julias beauty. Kirsty, a friend of Rorys who appears desperately in love with the man, drops by to help with the move and annoy Julia. I see a big, bloody love triangle in the making. Ive also seen Hellraiser so I think know where some of this is going. Though I dont remember Kirsty being a love interest, I thought she was the husbands kid?

Julia starts to settle in but theres one room with sealed blinds that unnerves but attracts her. She begins to spend time in the room alone. The room seems to demand it. One day Rory has an accident and bleeds on the rooms floorboards and soon after Julia is reunited with Frank and the blood bath begins.

This book is pretty cold and brutal, especially in its portrayal of super-bitch Julia, but theres a very dark thread of humor running through it too. Imagine a slim beautiful woman chasing a flabby naked man around an empty room, sticking him with a knife as he flails away, refusing to keel over quickly. I dont know about you but this image struck me as ridiculously humorous.

Kirsty, who is a home-wrecker sort in this book, stumbles upon Julia and Frank doing bad things (thats what you get Miss Nosey-pants) and takes off running with The Box in her hands. Of course, she cant leave well enough alone and has to fiddle with it. Now theyre all going to experience their fair share of suffering.

The cenobites are only in the story briefly early on and again at the end. Most of the grisly horror happens at the hands of Julia and Frank which makes all uglier. I vaguely remember the cenobites being a larger part of the movie but I prefer this version of the story better.
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 3 more book reviews
A little gory, a tiny bit erotic, but if you tend to sympathize with the bad guys it gets really boring, really fast.
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 25 more book reviews
The inside covers are a little yellow but the book is in good shape.
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 3 more book reviews
1991 edition. Near mint except for light tanning on inside of cover.
reviewed The Hellbound Heart on + 60 more book reviews
Cover wear and creasing. Edgemark running lightly on pages up to page 19. Still good to read.