Review

Mister B. Gone

by Clive Barker

It
has been more than five years since the prolific horror writer
Clive Barker has published an adult novel. And it has been almost
20 years since the film Hellraiser made him an icon. This
fall he is back with another scary tale, MISTER B. GONE.

The titular Mister B. is Jakabok Botch, a demon born and raised in
the ninth circle of hell, where his abusive father tends the trash
heaps of Demonation. The sensitive young Botch takes to writing
down his dreams of torture machines and revenge on his father and
neighborhood bullies. However, all that stops when his mother
discovers his journals. She demands he burn them, but before they
are completely destroyed, his father, Pappy Gatmuss, reads a few
choice passages. Pappy turns on his son in anger, and Botch falls
into the raging fire. Later, the hideous narrator is fished out of
hell, along with his father, by a corrupt priest. He seizes the
opportunity to kill his father, letting him fall back through all
the circles of Demonation to his death.

Now, Botch is on earth's surface and fleeing those who would do the
not-very-supernaturally-talented demon harm. He finds himself in
medieval Europe, a place where demons and angels are as real as any
human, and eventually joins forces with another demon, the powerful
and charming Quintoon Patheea. For a couple hundred years the two
travel Europe, slaying priests and bathing in the blood of
babies.

But they also are always on the lookout for the next great
invention. Quintoon believes that a man in Mainz is about to change
civilization with his invention, and the two head in that
direction. They part bitterly on the road but meet again in the
home of Johannes Gutenberg, where they witness a violent battle
between good and evil and a secret big enough to seduce Botch's
readers. Why does Botch need to seduce the reader? Because he
wants, desperately wants, the book burned. See, the book itself has
been the prison of Botch since that day in Mainz, and he wants to
be released into death; the only person capable of delivering him
is the person reading the book.

Barker's gimmick, that Botch is trapped in the book and is trying
to convince the reader to burn it, is interesting, but it is a
gimmick nonetheless. MISTER B. GONE is flat where it could've been
exciting and cliché where it could've been innovative. It
lacks the intensity, spirit and horror of his better works. Botch
pleads and cajoles endlessly for the reader to just stop reading
and burn the book, but never really digs deep into his own
potentially intriguing tale.

MISTER B. GONE is not without some charm: Barker's humanization of
demons is engaging. His relationship with his soulmate Quintoon and
the idea of the power of words as one that heaven and hell are
willing to fight over are promising, but the author never really
delivers. Despite these criticisms, however, hardcore fans of Clive
Barker will be happy to have their hands on this quirky book (with
wonderfully yellowed pages).

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on January 7, 2011

Mister B. Gone
by Clive Barker

  • Publication Date: October 30, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Horror
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0060182989
  • ISBN-13: 9780060182984