Science Fiction Book Review


Abarat (2002) Clive Barker, HarperCollins, 17.99, hrdbk, 414pp, ISBN 0-00-225952-4


A fairy tale for all ages, this is the first of four volumes. Candy Quackenbush, bored out of her mind, leaves Chickentown, Minnesota, and runs into John Mischief (and the heads of his seven brothers) who shows her how to summon the Sea of Izabella in order to escape the villainous Mendelson Shape. She is carried to the Abarat, an archipelago of twenty-five islands, one for each hour of the day plus the twenty-fifth hour. Here she comes to the attention of, amongst others, Shape's master Christopher Carrion, Lord of Midnight, for she carries a key of great importance. She is also of interest to Rojo Pixler, master of the Commexo corporation and the island of Pyon. Both Carrion and Pixler await the coming of the Requiax, monsters from the depths of the Izabella. Candy makes friends and foes in her journeys and has many adventures, each of which bring her to believe that she has been in the Abarat before, especially when she finds out that she can do magic...

This is Barker at his brilliant best; lively, inventive, occasionally grotesque, and telling a tale full of heart. The story moves along at a cracking pace (a feature sadly lacking in his adult material) and is full of engaging and wonderful characters. It's incredible stuff like this that demonstrates just how vapid and shallow the Harry Potter books are - this is what the kids should be reading. Of course, who knows what will happen to it once it's Disney-fied? (They paid $8million for the rights to this). Who cares? Just delight in the books. Illustrated throughout by Barker (very well), this is a delightful book and I, for one, will await further volumes with anticipation and relish. Get it.

Tony Chester

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