Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker

(hb; 1993: first Book of the Art; prequel to Everville)

From the inside flap:

"Memory, prophecy and fantasy -- the past, the present, the future, and the dreaming moment between -- are all one country, living one immortal day. To know that is Wisdom. To use it is the Art. . .

"Armageddon begins with a murder in the Dead Letter Office in Omaha, Nebraska.

"A lake that has never existed falls from the clouds over Palomo Grove, California.

"Young passion blossoms, as the world withers with war.

"The Great and Secret Show has begun on the stage of the world.

"And soon, the final curtain must fall."


This excellent novel is epic in tone, with all its distinctly human perversities, beauty and everything in between shown in full cinematic, metaphysical and myth-constructive glory. Its wide array of characters, from enemy entities Fletcher and the Jaff, to Kissoon (the perverse shaman in the mystical, time-ticking Loop) to paranormal investigator Harry D'Amour (also seen in the stories "The Last Illusion," in Barker's Cabal anthology, and "Lost Souls," in various publications) embody that range of humanity -- though some of that humanity has transcended what was previous perceived and realized, with sometimes catastrophic results. Its locales range from America to various mystical realms (Quiddity, a dream sea; the Ephemeris, islands in the Quiddity; the dark Metacosm where a cold and merciless foe waits to cross Quiddity and devour our collective consciousness, as well as our world, also called the Cosm).

Great is one of the best realized and ambitious-in-its-mythmaking works I've read. It is vivid, disturbing, uplifting and everything else that a novel with this scope needs to be, with its humanity and inhumanity driving its fast-moving and character-variable storyline. Worth owning, this.

Followed by Everville.

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