The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

Genre: Horror
Published: 1986
Publisher: Dark Harvest

“Frank Cotton’s insatiable appetite for the dark pleasures of pain led him to the puzzle of Lemarchand’s box, and from there, to a death only a sick-minded soul could invent. But his
brother’s love-crazed wife, Julia, has discovered a way to bring Frank back—though the price will be bloody and terrible…and there will certainly be hell to pay.”

– Back Cover, Hellbound Heart

When I initially picked up this book and saw it was only 164 pages and in large print, I assumed it to be an easy read. But Barker’s language was so illustrious that it made me savor every word he wrote.

Right off the bat, in chapter one, Barker wrote:

A great line. But my favorite is on page 31. Barker wrote about the seasons with such tangible descriptive language that I embraced his perspective with doubtless totality:

“The seasons long for each other, like men and women, in order that they may be cured of their excess.
“Spring, if it lingers more than a week beyond its span, starts to hunger for summer to end the days of perpetual promise. Summer in its turn soon begins to sweat for something to quench its heat, and the mellowest of autumns will tire of gentility at last, and ache for a quick sharp frost to kill its
“Even winter—the hardest seasons, the most implacable—dreams, as February creeps on, of the flame that will presently melt it away. Everything tires with time, and starts to seek some opposition, to save it from itself.
“So August gave way to September, and there were few complaints.” (page 31-32)

While the language was enthralling, graphic and horrifying was the tale itself of Frank Cotton and the Cenobites (sounds like a snappy 40’s quartet). Villains are everything to me, and it’s not often that I read a villain that I fear for the sake of the characters. But after what the Cenobites did to Frank Cotton, I
feared for any other living soul that touched Lemarchand’s Box:

And that was just Frank reconfiguring himself. Imagine what he looked like when the Cenobites whisked him off to “Wonderland”.

The Cenobites and their hellish torments were the perfect dose of fear. Never before Lemarchand’s Box existed anything more cursed.

The Cenobites themselves were sadistic antagonists
sketched in the mind of a man with one toe dipped in the Eternal Flame. While I felt the movie version of this story (Hellraiser) was hard to watch due to the graphic nature of the Cenobites, the book depicted them to equal brutality, but in moderation. Barker used so few words to describe a visually tangible image:

Okay, I’ll stop flattering Barker’s writing.

The book was beyond entertaining! I was impressed with Barker’s dark imagination. The Cenobites were one of my favorite literary villains. Gnarly and dreadful creatures, tormented and tormentors, summoned by a puzzle box. One of my favorite subtleties of the Cenobites was the ringing of bells at their invocation. Every time I read the word “bells” in this book, instant tension was triggered.

Creatively woven into this dark horror was a love drama that so suited the mood. No spoilers, but Julia has a reason behind her bitterness. And Kirsty’s role in the book made the ending more satisfying. Like Clive Barker said in his interview after Hellraiser, “There is a happy ending…but not for everybody.”

The book was a fantastic read. The twisted love stories, Frank’s selfish obsession to regain life, the dosage of blood and gore. All the masterful writing of Clive Barker, his inventive imagination, and a perfect ending made this book a must-have. Definitely will be reading it over again. If you haven’t picked
up anything of Clive Barker’s, please, do so now. Starting with this classic wouldn’t be in bad taste.

The Demon of Brownsville Road by: Bob Cranmer

Chapter 1
The book was filled from the start at chapter one with cliffhangers. Not at the end of the chapters, but throughout the entire chapter, and there were so many that I feel as though the majority of them killed me because he left them hanging too long. Cliffhangers are only successful in a story if you place them properly in succession with the dramatic outcome. If you just throw in a bunch of “and then this happened and we were in the turn of our lives” but never tell me where the turn ends up, I feel betrayed, lost a little.

Chapter 6
At this point, I’m beginning to believe this “demon” is a metaphor for the religious, parental and political challenges of his life. There have been paranormal experiences sprinkled here and there, but only in the first chapters and the cliffhangers from chapter one haven’t been answered yet, so I have entirely forgotten why I was initially frightened for him in the first place.

Chapter 7
The transition into the paranormal events wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped. It was like the previous chapter was all about his changing in his faith in God, in his beliefs and then BAM he’s in a haunted house now. It wasn’t as though all this activity had been happening all along because he separated the book into what happened in his social and religious life and then what happened in his personal life instead of what was happening all at once over the course of the years he was in that house being haunted by this demonic entity.

Chapter 19
By now, after being educated by his experiences with this demon and what the church had told him about it, I’m feeling encouraged that I am strong enough to fight evil and protect my home and family, so long as I’m merely a vessel for God’s power. So that God fights through me. Clearly from Bob’s experience, it may be a long process and it may seem repetitive at times, but it’s worth it if it means your home will be your home and never the devil’s again.

There were moments throughout the story that were exceptionally beautiful in terms of figurative language. Pulled me right out of the nonfiction that I had rode out from chapter one to chapter seven and right into this totally different mood of a story of a man who’s fighting to save his life, his family and his house.

Example: “In hindsight their two visits were somewhat messy affairs, like lancing the outer surface of an infected wound, especially in opening up the area under the staircase. Hopefully we could now treat the infection with our holy antibiotics.” (page 228)

Example: “This once roaring fire had been smothered. Its evil and rage had been overcome with the power of our love, and the power of God’s love for us.”
(page 262)

The Cranmer house is said to open as a bed and breakfast.

Overview: The Demon of Brownsville Road (Bob Cranmer) was a spectacular nonfictional adventure into the depths of evil and how faith and strength overcame it. When I say “depth” I honestly mean this because the origin of this demon’s purpose at the house on Brownsville Road was not linked directly to
Bob Cranmer or his family, but to the sins of those who lived years and years before Bob was even conceived. This kind of attachment of an unspeakably evil force unbeknownst to the average person is the sole reason that the battle between God through Bob Cranmer versus the demon was the most raw,
triumphant war man could possibly endure.

Movies and television shows persuade us to believe that demonic activity only persists for a short time, escalates at an abnormal rate before there is a climatic battle of life and death, and then all is well and it never happens again. In reality, Bob Cranmer and his family proved that demons are persistent predators and will sap up every second of a person’s life until the end.

Individuals who are suffering a demonic infestation or individuals who are present or fixing to become present in the paranormal need to read this book. It provides a sufferer’s insight on how strenuous a demon can be on someone as well as how unfailingly strong your faith must be in God for you to overcome the demonic.

This story is an epic journey through the primitive warfare of good versus evil. An American man being tried again and again by this demon as the city around him begins to unfold with vigilantes and before long, the depth of this demon’s power begins to manifest at home for Bob Cranmer. To know that this
demon was capable of affecting Bob’s life far before he was even in that house is astounding. When Bob moves in, battles this demon and overcomes it with many trials, errors and deaths along the way, it comes to show that with God working
through those who believe, and through persistence in your faith, all is possible.

God’s Answers to Life’s Difficult Questions by: Rick Warren

How does God help the stressed, the lonely, the depressed, among many other sufferers? Rick Warren addresses our most common emotional adversaries, and offers Biblical examples of God’s solution to them.

As a Christian, the Bible is the central source of information for me, so it’s imperative that self-help books like this utilize Bible verses as the foundation for their lessons. Warren does exactly that, doing one better than just verses. He uses the red letters in the New Testament. What better way to learn than through our Great Teacher?

As always, a change of perspective is one of the key factors I seek in reading self-help books. With all that I’ve read, I consider myself pretty open-minded and understanding in general, but any time a book can expand upon what I already know, it’s worthy of a review. This book not only expanded on solutions I knew, but reinforced those solutions with Jesus’ own

“Jesus said, ‘Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going.’” (John 8:14)

“You cannot out-dream God. If you could stretch your imagination to the greatest limits of what you think could possibly happen, God can go beyond even that.” (page 22)

Warren’s book targeted specific emotions, and thus the book overall felt more focused than other self-help books. Most definitely a book I will be adding to my bookcase.

“Insecurity always produces pressure in our lives, and when we are insecure, we feel coerced to perform and conform.” (page 15)

“Light diffused produces a hazy glow, but light concentrated produces fire.” (Page 20)

Next Door Savior by: Max Lucado

In case you don’t recognize Max Lucado’s name, let this be the book to introduce you to one of my favorite Christian authors. Lucado has a way with words to reshape our view on simple principles of Jesus in our lives. Next Door Savior brings Jesus into our neighborhood.

“The God of the Universe left the glory of heaven and moved into our neighborhood.” (page 85)

The discouraged, suffering, grieving, tormented, spiritually weary, and so many more can find rest in the Bible verses and examples Lucado reminded us of in this book. The stories in the Old Testament, the lessons the disciples learned, all that was written for us. It’s easy to point out the lessons the Bible characters learned, but often it can be difficult to translate those lessons to our modern lives. Lucado aids us in doing this for 240 pages of the most inspirational messages.

“It’s not that sin has no more presence in your life, but rather that sin has no power over your life. Temptation will pester you, but temptation will not master you.” (page 69)

A definite must-read for anyone seeking to live with Christ.

“He will come out in your speech, in your actions, in your decisions. Every place you live will be Bethlehem, and every day you live will be a Christmas. You, like Mary, will deliver Christ into the world.” (page 91)

“God’s greatest blessings often come costumed as disasters.” (page 145)

“With hands nailed open, he invited God, ‘Treat me as you would treat them!’ And God did. In the act that broke the heart of the Father, yet honored the holiness of heaven, sin-purging judgment flowed over the sinless Son of the ages.” (page 142)

The Vatican’s Exorcists by: Tracy Wilkinson

From unbiased reporter Tracy Wilkinson unravels the truth about the Vatican, its priests, and exorcisms. Written in a point of view that neither discredits nor acknowledges the existence of the demonic, the book provides testimonies of exorcists and equally counters those testimonies with those from doctors and psychologists.

Wilkinson’s research was done thoroughly and well pieced together in this book. She explored many avenues behind the Church and Catholic teachings, as well as sitting in on an exorcism personally. Her work provided no majority so the book remained in perfect balance of both religious and psychological belief systems.

Books that change my perspective are always worthy of a review. This book expanded the possibilities of what really happens behind religious leadership’s doors. I never would have thought religious leaders to use the devil as a scare tactic, but this book pointed out that many do exactly that to gain followers. So many details like that were included, and I walked away from reading this stronger as a Christian, and more aware of the wiles of the devil.

“These priests and other Vatican officials cannot say demonic possession is an impossibility because it is contained in Church dogma. But they fear—with justification—that this uncomfortable topic will be misinterpreted and sensationalized. They would rather it not be highlighted at all, in deference to more positive, life-affirming aspects of the religion.” (page 3)

“The rhythmic incantations of the priest, the patient’s inward focus, the isolation—all can submerge a patient into a trance, a hypnotic-like state that allows subconscious role-playing. A kind of emotional contagion sets in that signals certain behavior to the patient. A good hypnotist can make a patient bark like a dog. An exorcist, less explicitly and unintentionally, could make a patient talk like the devil.” (page 151)

I read this book a month before the show Evil aired on CBS, and thought it must have had some influence on the plot of the television series. Some of the facts in the book were stated in the pilot of Evil by the character David Acosta, and the premise of the book is reflected in the show as the challenge of religion versus mental illness when it comes to the possessed or demonically influenced. Closely similar, both works are worthy of checking out!

7-Day Christian by: Brad Wilcox

In this book, the expectation of Christians is elevated to a whole new level of Jesus-worthy action. So many of us say we’re Christian, say we believe in God, but this book taught me how to express that, how to display Jesus’ love in my every day life, and how to be more proactive in my faith and love for the Lord .

While it’s easy to say you are something, it’s difficult to show you are. Wilcox provides us with examples of how to be better disciples for the Lord, and how to leave this world behind to prepare for our permanent home.

7-Day Christian isn’t referring to the conversion of becoming Christian in seven days. This book centers around how we as Christians should remain Christians seven days a week, not simply on the holy day, Sunday the Sabbath.

“We need more believing and behaving disciples—faithful men and women who are ready to stand up and stand together to change the world as early Christians did—one renewed friendship, one warm embrace, one sincere compliment, one compassionate act, one righteous choice at a time.” (page 6)

“People should be able to trust that they will see Christ’s image in our countenance and His teachings in our lives—not just on Sunday, but throughout the heat and pressure of a 7-day week.” (page 47)

Power Over the Enemy by: John Osteen

The most powerful book I have ever read. While this is a Christian book, you don’t have to be Christian denomination to understand the context of the book as Osteen explains the main villain in all of our lives: the Devil.

In the Bible, the Devil is stated as a real villain, not an ideal we blame our problems on. He is a real entity that we face in our daily struggles. A loathsome lion prowling for the weak and vulnerable, for those who are alone and unprotected. And Osteen arms readers with the tools presented in the Bible for all of God’s children to use in combat with the Evil One.

Not only did this book change my perspective, but I walked away a stronger woman from it. Prior to this book, I was fearful of the Devil. Film and media convince us that he is an enemy we should fear for his power and mercilessness, but Osteen presented us with Bible verses that contradict Satan’s falsified claim of power. In this book, the Devil went from King of Hellions to a coward who runs from Jesus’ Name.

I was also made more aware of the ways Satan works to manipulate us and lead us astray from God. The Bible states that the Devil tempts us away from God, but Osteen presented examples of how the Devil does that in today’s world.

This book was so empowering that I have two sets of notes I took from it. I keep one set at my desk and am constantly referring back to it. The other set is my backup because I never want to lose the knowledge I learned from this book. This is a book I pass to everyone, am eager to share with people of non-denominational religions, and even to those who aren’t sure about God.

Power Over the Enemy gives us control of our fear over the darkness, over the silence, over the demons that come creeping into our lives. We are given power through Jesus’ Name and are able to conquer our terrors and stand fearless waving our flag of the Cross.

“God honors faith; our enemy attacks with fear. The battleground is the mind, and you must fortify your thoughts with the Word of God.” (page 9, Foreward by Joel Osteen)

“I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19)

“When you’re in that attitude of faith, you are opening the door for God to work in your situation. You may not see anything happening with your natural eyes, but don’t let that discourage you. In the unseen realm, in the spiritual world, God is at work. He is changing things in your favor. And if you’ll do your part and keep believing, in due season, at the right time, God will bring you out with the victory.” (page 99)

“You create the atmosphere in which you live by the thoughts you entertain for constant meditation” (page 135)

“The devil must laugh at the thousands of Christians—the mighty sons and daughters of God—who are intimidated by demon forces. They have the power to cast out demons, and yet they roll over and surrender…” (page 146)

Fearless by: Francine Pascal

A 36-book series revolving around a girl born without the “fear” gene. Completely fearless and badass, Gaia Moore spends her free time searching for trouble, acting as a shadow heroine in New York City, awkwardly flirting with the boy of her dreams, Sam, and just trying to fit in.

Struggling to appear a normal seventeen-year-old girl proves hard when your father is an antiterrorist and when all his enemies are after you. After Gaia’s mother was murdered, Tom Moore went into hiding, leaving his daughter under the protection of his CIA friend, George, and his wife, Ella. But Gaia Moore is no regular teen girl who screams and runs from danger. Rather, she seeks it, meets its eye and takes it down. Gaia Moore is a lethal force and can handle herself.

“Jeez, what a girl had to do to get mugged in this city” (page 42)

“Yo, Rapunzel. Forget the ladder. There’s a faster way down.”

Sentences like these are the reason Gaia Moore is one of my favorite characters of all time. That, and the fact that she wears fingernail polish that’s “cockroach” colored, the fact that she’s a badass without being cocky. I love her crude humor, her fearlessness. It’s so original and her character never flawed in any part in the story.

Although the book is labeled as a “teen read”, the language isn’t in an immature tone that forces adults to become youth again. Instead, it’s written in a more mature voice that completely suits the serious and savage personality of its main character. Borderline young adult fiction.

Living vicariously through Gaia Moore is what books are all about. Jumping into the life of that character, becoming someone else for a change. Never before have I wanted to be a fictional character until Gaia. Her lack of gene is basically a natural superpower, and being trained in every form of combat makes her a weapon. Who wouldn’t wanna be such a kickass heroine?

Choke by: Chuck Palahniuk

Centered around scam-artist and sex addict Victor Mancini, this satirical story covers a season of Mancini’s life with flashbacks to his childhood scattered throughout. When not scamming people out of money pretending to choke at fancy restaurants, Victor is visiting his mother in the nursing home or attending sex addict recovery sessions less for help and more for filthy bathroom quickies.

The book sounds disgusting, and much of it was too vulgar for my ladylike sensitivities, but I recommend it because it changed my perspective on a lot in life. Satire has that ability to point out the differences in human nature and reality and experience in a very raw, almost intolerable way.

By the end of the book, I felt this big breath of fresh air sweep into my lungs. Almost as if Victor was trapped in a windowless house, roaming, searching aimlessly for a way out, and by the last chapter had found it, lit a cigarette and cursed the damned experience for making him a better person.

I honestly loved the book.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“The truth is, every son raised by a single mom is pretty much married. I don’t know, but until your mom dies it seems like all the other women in your life can never be more than just your mistress.” (page 15)

From the ever “wise” Ida Mancini, Victor’s mother: “We’ve spent so much time judging what other people created that we’ve created very, very little of our own.” (page 111)

Another that inspired more compassion for the elderly:
“…they show the movie The Pajama Game every Friday night, and every Friday all the same patients crowd in to see it for the first time.” (page 57)

“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it’s only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.”

“What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody. Who I need is somebody that will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. Somebody addicted to me. A mutual addiction.”

Zoë Martinique Investigations By: Phaedra Weldon

Zoë Martinique is a private investigator with a secret
weapon: her ability to go Wraith. As a wraith, Zoë is capable of leaving her body and spying on the living from the spirit world where most cannot see her. During one investigation, Zoë happened upon the Archer, a villainous spirit who targeted her and changed her fate forever. With a band of supernatural heroes, Zoë is out to stop the Archer and anything that stands in her way.

The series is made up of main books and several sub-stories. You don’t have to read the sub-stories to be entertained; but to fully understand the story, the sub-stories are a must. The order of the series is listed below:

  • 0.5 Web Ginn House
  • 1 Wraith
  • 1.3 Out of the Dark
  • 1.6 Holly and Ivy
  • 2 Spectre
  • 3 Phantasm
  • 4 Revenant
  • 4.5 Beyond the Door
  • 5 Geist
  • 5.3 Walking Shadows
  • 5.6 Soul Cage
  • 6 Dominion
  • 6.3 Dark Time
  • 6.6 Dark Possession
  • 7 Seraphim

Continue to pages 2-4 for reviews of Wraith, Spectre and Phantasm.