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The Great and Secret Show

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Clive Barker's bestseller Weaveworld astonished readers with his visionary range, establishing him as a master of fabulist literature. Now, with The Great and Secret Show he rises to new heights. In this unforgettable epic he wields the full power and sweep of his talents. "Succinctly put," says Barker, "it's about Hollywood, sex and Armageddon." Memory, prophecy and fantasy Clive Barker's bestseller Weaveworld astonished readers with his visionary range, establishing him as a master of fabulist literature. Now, with The Great and Secret Show he rises to new heights. In this unforgettable epic he wields the full power and sweep of his talents. "Succinctly put," says Barker, "it's about Hollywood, sex and Armageddon." Memory, prophecy and fantasy; the past, 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. A lake that has never existed falls from the clouds over Palomo Grove, CA. Young passion blossoms, as the world withers with war. The Great and Secret Show has begun on the stage of the world. Soon the final curtain must fall. In this, the First Book of the Art, Barker has created a masterpiece of the imagination that explores the uncharted territory within our secret lives and most private hearts. Sprawling, ambitious, triumphantly magical and satisfying, The Great and Secret Show is what the rest of life is all about.


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Clive Barker's bestseller Weaveworld astonished readers with his visionary range, establishing him as a master of fabulist literature. Now, with The Great and Secret Show he rises to new heights. In this unforgettable epic he wields the full power and sweep of his talents. "Succinctly put," says Barker, "it's about Hollywood, sex and Armageddon." Memory, prophecy and fantasy Clive Barker's bestseller Weaveworld astonished readers with his visionary range, establishing him as a master of fabulist literature. Now, with The Great and Secret Show he rises to new heights. In this unforgettable epic he wields the full power and sweep of his talents. "Succinctly put," says Barker, "it's about Hollywood, sex and Armageddon." Memory, prophecy and fantasy; the past, 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. A lake that has never existed falls from the clouds over Palomo Grove, CA. Young passion blossoms, as the world withers with war. The Great and Secret Show has begun on the stage of the world. Soon the final curtain must fall. In this, the First Book of the Art, Barker has created a masterpiece of the imagination that explores the uncharted territory within our secret lives and most private hearts. Sprawling, ambitious, triumphantly magical and satisfying, The Great and Secret Show is what the rest of life is all about.

30 review for The Great and Secret Show

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Nelson

    How can I best describe The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker, well if you imagine the start being at one end of a swimming pool, and the swimming pool is filled with jelly (or jello to some) made from a cocktail of your favourite alcoholic spirits and liqueurs.   And to reach the end you've got to wade through this Olympic sized jelly filled swimming pool, right, so chances are you're going to enjoy a fair portion of it before you get full anyway. There's going to be some enjoymen How can I best describe The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker, well if you imagine the start being at one end of a swimming pool, and the swimming pool is filled with jelly (or jello to some) made from a cocktail of your favourite alcoholic spirits and liqueurs.   And to reach the end you've got to wade through this Olympic sized jelly filled swimming pool, right, so chances are you're going to enjoy a fair portion of it before you get full anyway. There's going to be some enjoyment, mixed in with some fucking hard work, there's going to be intense appreciation of the idea but it's not something you can possibly do in one go, it might take you weeks and you may even decide to eat your way through it, taking even longer. You’ll grow tired, weak even, your arms will ache but you’ll soldier on even though you think it’s just not bloody worth it.   There'll be all kinds of feelings going through your mind, a myriad of emotions, like why the Fuck did I start this massive fucking job now. Jesus fucking wept you will swear several times and hover over diving in again until you desperately need to just get it over with, as if your life depends on it.   So to recap it's going to be hard going, you'll love some of it, you'll get pissed at some of it, you'll feel like taking a break at regular intervals and you might even question your will to finish the job, even your sanity but if you do finish, it will certainly hold some sort of reward and a sense of achievement will prevail.   Anyway apologies for that rubbish but that's how I felt at times, I started this book in November and it’s taken me six weeks to read and I'm fucking glad it's over with. It's unquestionably genius, the writing is imaginative with wonderful prose, it's a great story but it labours horrifically, I loved it while at the same time I hated it and I'll never, ever think to pick it up again, in fact I'm going to cremate this fucker. Now I have a few other Barker tomes awaiting Imajica, Coldheart Canyon and Weaveworld, will I read them anytime soon? Only when I want to wade through jelly again. Nuff said.   A 3.5* rating Also posted at http://paulnelson.booklikes.com/post/...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Apatt

    To label The Great and Secret Show a horror novel would be to do it a disservice. "Arty horror" would be closer to the mark but that sounds silly and would still be inadequate. “Dark fantasy” sounds good to me though it deemphasizes the horror aspect of it a little too much, may be it is more phantasm than fantasy. Not that labels really matter, a good book is a good book regardless of whatever label you slap on it. I am only going on about it just to have some kind of intro! To tell you what this book is ab To label The Great and Secret Show a horror novel would be to do it a disservice. "Arty horror" would be closer to the mark but that sounds silly and would still be inadequate. “Dark fantasy” sounds good to me though it deemphasizes the horror aspect of it a little too much, may be it is more phantasm than fantasy. Not that labels really matter, a good book is a good book regardless of whatever label you slap on it. I am only going on about it just to have some kind of intro! To tell you what this book is about is a fairly complicated undertaking (best left to undertakers perhaps). It starts with one Randolph Jaffe’s quest for mastery of “The Art”, not just any old art but a craft or power that has the capability to tear a hole in the fabric of reality and create an opening to another dimension called Quiddity. Quiddity is a mystical dream sea, a sea of the mind that most people visit twice in their lives. “Once the first night you slept out of the womb. The second occasion the night you lay beside the person you loved.” That does not make much sense out of the context of the book so just imagine the weirdest goddamn sea you can and then pile on extra weirdness on top. The Quiddity sea changes you and is generally extremely bad for your complexion: Credit Gabriel Rodríguez Pérez (from graphic novel adaptation) Jaffe’s pursuit of the Art leads to his eventually becoming something other than human and triggers a possible supernatural apocalypse that threatens all human lives. What starts out as a man’s quest for power becomes a titanic struggle between good and evil where the battles often takes surreal forms. Randolph Jaffe (AKA The Jaff). Again credit Gabriel Rodríguez Pérez. That little synopsis barely scratches the surface of the novel’s plot. The Great and Secret Show is a dark fantasy of epic proportions (though “epic fantasy” has an entire different connotation, usually associated with Tolkien’s or George R.R. Martin’s kind of fantasy). With this book is Clive Barker is at the peak of his creativity, here he has created a brand new mythos about the nature of dreams and reality that is mind blowing. The storyline is quite complex but clearly narrated so there is never any problem following it. Fans of bizarre critters should have a field day with this book which is populated by some very bizarre and often disgusting creatures. For example you know how low budget horror movies from the 80s often feature shitty monsters? This book literally has shitty monsters made from actual fecal matter! There are also various other bizarre creatures made from fear and others made from dreams that I can not even begin to describe. The book is full of horrific moments, surreal dream-like moments and even comical moments and romantic bits. I would not recommend it to anyone who is easily offended though. If you avert your eyes at Game of Thrones’ most outrageous scenes then leave The Great and Secret Show on the shelf. Barker's prose style is hard to pin down, sometime he takes flight into lyricism, other times he dives into the language of the gutter (he certainly seems to use the “C word” a lot). The multiple protagonists are all well drawn. The most memorable one being the evil Randolph Jaffe (AKA The Jaff) and the kickass heroine Tesla. I am quite impressed by how quickly Barker can introduce and develop characters that are vivid and believable, in a few pages within a single chapter mostly through dialog. At the end of the day I can whole heartedly recommend The Great and Secret Show to anyone looking for a fantastical – or perhaps phantasmagorical – read. You won’t be disappointed (if you are, you shouldn’t be!).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    This book bordered on a religious revelation to me. I absolutely adore the style it is written in and the subject matter tears at the fabric of your understanding of reality. I questioned what I know in a way that harkens back to Plato's 'The Cave'. Is reality real or is it just shadows on the wall inside something bigger than I can understand? Clive Barker has a way of making dark and sinister characters intriguing and not nightmare inducing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    It's easy to measure the reader's enthusiasm with novels such as this one. Eager, excited, the pages go by fast; on the other hand, when it lags it is extremely... languid. The switching of character's allegiances is a cool trick which Barker has undoubtedly mastered (for no one is entirely good nor entirely evil...as always, its just a matter of selfishness)--also his mythology-making abilities are outstanding. This however, is overdone. I mean, several key characters are spirited away for the It's easy to measure the reader's enthusiasm with novels such as this one. Eager, excited, the pages go by fast; on the other hand, when it lags it is extremely... languid. The switching of character's allegiances is a cool trick which Barker has undoubtedly mastered (for no one is entirely good nor entirely evil...as always, its just a matter of selfishness)--also his mythology-making abilities are outstanding. This however, is overdone. I mean, several key characters are spirited away for the last (and overly long) act and they are soon replaced by less-interesting doppelgangers. But I keep thinking Barker got pretty tired with his original cast--indicative of messy story planning. This one grows steadily into tediousness. Also, and perhaps the gravest crime of all: the nifty nightmare creatures are ill used in a sorry way. My advice: Put this one and "Sacrament" in a "Never Read" pile, but still, please, keep Barker in pop culture consciousness by sticking with "Books of Blood, Vol. 1-3" & "The Thief of Always."

  5. 4 out of 5

    ☽¸¸.I am¸¸.•*¨ The ¸¸.•*¨*Phoenix¨*•♫♪ ☾

    Stories had a way of doing that, in Grillo’s experience. It was his belief that nothing, but nothing, could stay secret, however powerful the forces with interests vested in silence. Conspirators might conspire and thugs attempt to gag but the truth, or an approximation of same, would show itself sooner or later, very often in the unlikeliest form. It was seldom hard facts that revealed the life behind the life. It was rumour, graffiti, strip cartoons and love songs. Stories had a way of doing that, in Grillo’s experience. It was his belief that nothing, but nothing, could stay secret, however powerful the forces with interests vested in silence. Conspirators might conspire and thugs attempt to gag but the truth, or an approximation of same, would show itself sooner or later, very often in the unlikeliest form. It was seldom hard facts that revealed the life behind the life. It was rumour, graffiti, strip cartoons and love songs. Jaffe has a tedious job in a work office: its main task is to sort through all the unopened letters that for different reasons haven't been delivered. Every day, he has to go though hundreds of envelopes: love letters, postcards, the occasional dollar bill... until one day, in one of them, he catches a glimpse of something; a fragment of information which becomes to connect with other fragments, until, after a few months, Jaffe starts to realize that someone, out there, knows a truth which could change every idea we have about ourselves and out reality, and he's ready to do everything in his power to gain full access to it. I've never read any Clive Barker before, so I decided to go for this one because of all the positive reviews and because of my interest in the occult. The idea behind it it's absolutely captivating: a common man accidentally discovers something he was never supposed to know, a Truth so big and terrible that no one can know it and remain unchanged. For the first 100 pages or so I couldn't lift my eyes from this book. Unfortunately, for me at least, not all the promises made in those 100 pages were met in the rest of the book: this has been one of those cases in which the idea behind a novel is great, the execution it very good, but still leaves an idea on "unfinished business". I guess this is the problem with tales of the occult and with horror in general: sometimes the idea of something, the picture we have in our head, is ten times more horrible than any concrete realization of the same concept could be. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy this book, on the contrary: I think I found a new horror author to explore and I'm very exited about that. On the other hand, my interest throughout the book varied greatly. I'm not sure I want to go on with the series, but I'm glad I read this one!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adam Light

    Even better the second time around. If I could rate it higher, I would. Of course, I believe this is essential reading for horror/dark fantasy fans. I will be revisiting the sequel, Everville, next.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matt Nielsen

    This book is a trip and a half. It is weird and visceral yet I couldn't put it down. The imagery in it is sometimes graphic and downright nasty (there is a scene where one of the main characters is fascinated with a back room sex show in a bar in Mexico where a woman is having sex with a dog... and it describes it in intimate detail) but it keeps your curiosity peaked and keeps you wondering what is going to happen... Well I finished it last night and I gotta say... wow! This Clive Ba This book is a trip and a half. It is weird and visceral yet I couldn't put it down. The imagery in it is sometimes graphic and downright nasty (there is a scene where one of the main characters is fascinated with a back room sex show in a bar in Mexico where a woman is having sex with a dog... and it describes it in intimate detail) but it keeps your curiosity peaked and keeps you wondering what is going to happen... Well I finished it last night and I gotta say... wow! This Clive Barker guy has a hell of an imagination. The whole last 30 pages simply led you into a follow on book implying that this one only scratched the surface of this idea of Quiddity and the iad. It isn't very often that I get all the way through a book this fat but I did this one and I am going to get the follow up, Everville, this weekend. It is equally fat but I am looking forward to delving deeper into the world of the Shoal, Iad, Quiddity and the dream world that exists between this plane and the next...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Flashes of brilliance followed with periods of mild boredom coming around with a few more flashes topped with moments of "wtf?" and ending with a "Damn, I'm exhausted." Barker sure likes his epic tales, however his shorts seem to resonate a bit more for me. Good, but inconsistent. And about 150 to 200 pages too long...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bri | bribooks

    ”Mind was in matter, always. That was the revelation of Quiddity. The sea was the crossroads, and from it all possibilities sprang. Before everything, Quiddity. Before life, the dream of life. Before the thing solid, the solid thing dreamt. And mind, dreaming or awake, knew justice, which was therefore as natural as matter, its absence in any exchange deserving of more than a fatalistic shrug.” Behind everything — all of life and non-life — is Quiddity: a metaphysical dream-sea, a sort of colle ”Mind was in matter, always. That was the revelation of Quiddity. The sea was the crossroads, and from it all possibilities sprang. Before everything, Quiddity. Before life, the dream of life. Before the thing solid, the solid thing dreamt. And mind, dreaming or awake, knew justice, which was therefore as natural as matter, its absence in any exchange deserving of more than a fatalistic shrug.” Behind everything — all of life and non-life — is Quiddity: a metaphysical dream-sea, a sort of collective consciousness that is accessible only thrice in life. Those moments are just after birth, while lying after sex for the first time with one’s true love, and, finally, after death. To access it is nearly impossible, divine; it is the Art. If that sounds heady and über philosophical, especially a dark fantasy/horror novel, it is. And in a lesser author’s hands it would fall apart; this is Clive Barker, however, so 1989’s The Great and Secret Show is a masterwork. At the heart of this novel is a war between two former acquaintances-turned-enemies: one wants to access the Quiddity, to swim that water and know its secrets; the other wants to protect it at all costs. From there spins out a tale of demonic possession and romance; incest and the apocalypse; the shallow face of West Hollywood cracking while a hole is ripped in the universe, exposing what lies beyond the only thing the human mind can comprehend: the carefully balanced façade of modern living. This is a weird novel, and I loved every moment. I picked it up last night and couldn’t put it down. That’s almost seven-hundred pages read in forty-eight hours. Barker is an author whose prose I love to nibble on, suckle at, mull over. But I couldn’t put this book down. By combining the grotesque and fantastical, this novel is a titillating mashup of genres and ideas, all tied together with the confidence of a legendary myth maker.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    In an exercise to get in touch with my deceased teenage self, I decided to read one of the books that really got me into reading and, incidentally, writing. Having noted already that as the palate of age matures, the enjoyment of things past lessens, I wanted the familiar nostalgia of a book from my shelf that had my old, perhaps slightly smaller, fingerprints. The first of an incomplete trilogy, The Great and Secret Show is a novel of fantasy, horror, and sex. I must say that part of In an exercise to get in touch with my deceased teenage self, I decided to read one of the books that really got me into reading and, incidentally, writing. Having noted already that as the palate of age matures, the enjoyment of things past lessens, I wanted the familiar nostalgia of a book from my shelf that had my old, perhaps slightly smaller, fingerprints. The first of an incomplete trilogy, The Great and Secret Show is a novel of fantasy, horror, and sex. I must say that part of me was pleasantly surprised when rereading this book, to the extent that Barker does have a great command of language, imagination, and descriptive prowess. Following in the vein of much of his work, Barker creates new worlds, new creatures, and a mythology that is as confusing as it is intriguing. Unlike a lot of modern day mystery genres (LOST immediately comes to mind) where writers and producers have a certain grasp of the overall story, it seems here that Barker allows his imagination to run in a sort of stream of consciousness way, not really knowing where the stream's flowing. I know I know, Barker fans don't jump down my throat; I know he meticulously outlines his novels and has infinite folders of notes for such, but this book really doesn't seem to know the answers to it's own questions. I don't find this to be a particularly deal-breaking problem, but I hastily suggest to anyone who doesn't want to be frustrated with covert plots, be warned. What works is the interesting plot, the beginning, and the end. What doesn't work is about 400 pages in the middle. Barker is a great example of what modern day editors invest in red pens for. There are so many unnecessary characters and scenes in the book that would work well to be omitted. Moreover, the characters all seem redundant, each speaking with the same dialogue inflections and are generally indistinct. Still, I'm nothing if not nostalgic, so Barker's world, adopted the second time, was just as thrilling as the first.

  11. 4 out of 5

    11811 (Eleven)

    Second read, 20 years later, still 5 stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lee Thompson

    An epic journey full of beautifully dark events and the characters who shape those events. Barker is such an original. Looking forward to reading the sequel to this before the year is out.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Squire

    A gorgeous, sensuous dream of a novel that is, not surprisingly, about the stuff of dreams. Barker's signature wild mix of fantasy, sex and horror is on full display in this apocalyptic story as is his richly evocative prose. I lost myself in this story for hours on end and even ignored my dog's feeding time twice (sorry, Jake!). This is the kind of virtuoso performance I have come to expect from Barker (and what I expected, and didn't get, from The Scarlet Gospels). I do have to say that I found A gorgeous, sensuous dream of a novel that is, not surprisingly, about the stuff of dreams. Barker's signature wild mix of fantasy, sex and horror is on full display in this apocalyptic story as is his richly evocative prose. I lost myself in this story for hours on end and even ignored my dog's feeding time twice (sorry, Jake!). This is the kind of virtuoso performance I have come to expect from Barker (and what I expected, and didn't get, from The Scarlet Gospels). I do have to say that I found this book slightly misogynistic in that Barker spends his verbal acuity differently when describing a character's sex organs. In dialog, he will have his characters use the words "cock" and "dick" to describe the male genatalia, but in his narrative voice he will describe it as a "member" or simply as "hard"; but for females, he simply uses the term "cunt" (though twice he did use the word "slit" for the same character) in dialog and narration. Such an ugly term. But it didn't hamper my enjoyment of the book at all. It just amused me greatly. I'm looking forward to read the sequel next.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael Fierce

    One of the worst books I've ever read. Especially when you consider: 1. I've been a huge fan of Clive Barker since the earliest part of his career. 2. I have met and and talked with him briefly on 4 different occasions over the years, thought he was as special a guy as he is a writer, and admit I'd probably give him a slightly more favorable rating because of that. 3. I would easily give everything I've previously read of his a 4 or 5 rating and consider most of his books classics in the genres of Horror and Dark Fantasy. SUPER disappointing. And I'm definitthat.career. One of the worst books I've ever read. Especially when you consider: 1. I've been a huge fan of Clive Barker since the earliest part of his career. 2. I have met and and talked with him briefly on 4 different occasions over the years, thought he was as special a guy as he is a writer, and admit I'd probably give him a slightly more favorable rating because of that. 3. I would easily give everything I've previously read of his a 4 or 5 rating and consider most of his books classics in the genres of Horror and Dark Fantasy. SUPER disappointing. And I'm definitely NOT continuing on with the next book in this "series", Everville . I'll stick with re-reading all the books I grew up with and love by him: Books of Blood 1 , Books of Blood 2 , Books of Blood 3 , The Inhuman Condition , In the Flesh , The Hellbound Heart , The Damnation Game , Cabal , and though I'm not quite as bewitched by it, Weaveworld . I even liked his children's book, The Thief of Always --*True story: I once attended a Greek synagogue in San Francisco where Clive talked about everything under the sun, answering questions of all types, most by audience members. My two questions: 1. Are you a fan of Dario Argento ? He said something to the affect of, "I like several of his films, but, not all." 2. Would you ever consider writing a children's book?" Clive looked surprised, and answered a bit bright-eyed, "Yes...in fact I'm working on one now", ending that answer with a kind of wistful, puzzled grin. --Maybe I was the first person to ever ask him that, I wonder? :D His earlier books are superior in all respects; better written, better ideas, better plot lines, better names of people & places. And addictive as HELL. I always thought Clive Barker was a better short story writer and can attest that's still true after reading his Twilight at the Towers in The Mammoth Book of Wolf Men werewolf anthology from 2009. Sad to think he may have lost something along the way, but I'm not certain of that. I got a craving to read something by him I hadn't read before. Because I don't own The Scarlet Gospels - the book by him I most wanted to read - I decided on The Great and Secret Show , the book I'd left off at, after reading Weaveworld many years ago. I didn't like the story, the characters, the plot, the sub-plots, and was dumbfounded by the terribly inferior names he used in this book. Clive always had the coolest names of people, places and things in his books (too numerous to name!). In this one?: A. The evil guy is Randolph Jaffe, later calling himself THE Jaff. Why he dropped the E I have no idea why. And what kind of guy...or villain for that matter, calls himself The Jaff? An event near the beginning in which I won't go into any detail on, for fear of it becoming a spoiler, was called The League of Virgins. The League of Virgins!? Really, Clive ? That's the best you got? The dream place 'everybody' in this story is connected to is called Quiditty. I apologize to the megazillion adoring fans of this novel for my unfavorable review, but how/why anyone is fascinated with this book will be the 9th Wonder of the World to me the many times I'm sure my mind will stray towards this when thinking of Clive Barker's stories & novels. There are characters he goes on & on about their 'secret' desires. Like this one guy who collects, and is fascinated with, pornography. THIS is the sort of thing Clive wants to spend time thinking about? and develop into a memorable supporting character of his book? WOW. A woman character uses the C word when referencing to her private area, not once, but, SEVERAL times throughout the book, and more than a handful on one page alone(!). From my understanding & experience, I have almost never heard a woman, or girl, use that word in their vocabulary. And if so, NEVER in regards to 'down there'. Maybe in reference to a girl they hate. MAYBE , I say. Well. That about sums it up for me. Sorry, Clive.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    The summer I read this book was the summer I changed my mind about the horror genre. Previously, I had read some subpar Stephen King and some even more subpar Dean Koontz. A friend recommended the Great and Secret Show to me, saying it was like King's The Stand, but better. I skeptically started the book and was immediately glued to the page. Barker mixes dark fantasy and horror elements comprising a concoction that I've never found in any other book. The story is near impossible to explain with The summer I read this book was the summer I changed my mind about the horror genre. Previously, I had read some subpar Stephen King and some even more subpar Dean Koontz. A friend recommended the Great and Secret Show to me, saying it was like King's The Stand, but better. I skeptically started the book and was immediately glued to the page. Barker mixes dark fantasy and horror elements comprising a concoction that I've never found in any other book. The story is near impossible to explain without making it sound like a cliche, boring horror novel. Palomo Grove is a small California town where two ancient powers awaken, Jaffe and Fletcher. The Jaffe is an evil entity while Fletcher seems to be good. Their presence seems to be having a mysterious effect on the town and its residents. Barker introduces us to the residents of Palomo Grove, including my favorite surly reporter, Grillo. Somehow, Barker manages to simultaneously develop a large handful of characters and storylines while making the book feel cohesive. Overall, an amazing book and recommended to anyone who feels the horror genre is tired and boring.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ben Babcock

    The Great and Secret Show reminds me of the only Tim Powers novel I’ve read, Last Call . And that, for anyone wanting a one-sentence review (contingent upon understanding the nature of my opinion of Last Call), is that. In many ways, coming across a book that doesn’t interest one even though it’s a good book makes writing a review far more difficult than coming across a bad book. But if one truly reads widely—and it’s something I take pride in doing—then it will happen. So what then? I could try to praise The Great and Sec The Great and Secret Show reminds me of the only Tim Powers novel I’ve read, Last Call . And that, for anyone wanting a one-sentence review (contingent upon understanding the nature of my opinion of Last Call), is that. In many ways, coming across a book that doesn’t interest one even though it’s a good book makes writing a review far more difficult than coming across a bad book. But if one truly reads widely—and it’s something I take pride in doing—then it will happen. So what then? I could try to praise The Great and Secret Show for its merits, for the characteristics that endear it to other readers. Clive Barker brings an impressive imagination to the table. His credentials portray him as someone more in the “horror” camp of speculative fiction, and that’s borne out by the book—not horror in the nu-school sense of gore and death, but horror in the old-fashioned sense of dread, evil, and doom. There are times when Barker’s baddies are positively Lovecraftian. Behind the shadows, lying in wait, pulling the strings, exist the Iad Uroboros on another plane of existence. They are the stuff of nightmares’ nightmares and want only to slip into our dimension, drive us mad, and subjugate the empty shells of human beings who are left. If that doesn’t describe an Old One, I don’t know what does. Thankfully, there is a magical "ocean" called Quiddity lying between us and them. Central to the story is the attempt by one character to upset this balance. Randolph Jaffe is a sociopath who stumbles upon the secrets of Quiddity and the Art, gradually morphing into a less-than-human being known as the Jaff. He recruits an unconventional scientist, Fletcher, to help him with a final apotheosis. It goes wrong, but Fletcher turns against him. The two transcend human existence and wage war, embodying aspects of what a more limited mind might call “good” and “evil”. Their battles bring them to a temporary rest in Palomo Grove, California. And then it gets to the weird, horror part of the story, what with the impregnation and the children and the creepy love-at-first-sight. But even this is good, in a sense. Even this I can understand. Barker needs to provide the reader with more human characters—the story of the endless battle between the Jaff and Fletcher has grown thin. But as various humans become drawn into the conflict, the stakes increase. The bad guys become more real, and suddenly this becomes a battle for reality itself. For the right audience, I can see how this book would be the pitch-perfect blend of creepy horror and high-stakes urban fantasy. Alas, at times it drags, feeling far longer than it needs to be. Plus, this just isn’t my favourite corner of the fantasy realm. I enjoy a bit of darkness with my fantasy, particularly when that darkness has its origins in our own, flawed human nature, as Barker portrays through Jaffe and, to some extent, Kissoon. Yet I’m very picky when it comes to the ways in which urban fantasy deals with the interface between the magical and the mundane. The Great and Secret Show approaches the supernatural as a very spiritual, personal experience, whereas I tend to prefer magic that is showier, flashier, more style than substance. Is that crass of me? Probably. But I just like its stark contrast against the backdrop of an otherwise ordinary, regular world. So, there is much working in favour of this book. And I’m having a hard time understanding why I didn’t enjoy it much more than I did—but this problem itself indicates to me that, for whatever reason, the book and I just didn’t click. Is this what dating feels like? I’m sorry, The Great and Secret Show: it’s not you; it’s me.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dreadlocksmile

    First published in 1989, 'The Great And Secret Show' formed the first book of 'The Art' proposed trilogy. The novel is a complex weave of storylines, woven together to form this impressive and compelling tale of fantasy that sends you into a world with seemingly no limits. The novel not only opens up the reader's own imagination but brings forward suggestive images and ideas that remain with you for years to come. Barker manages to capture your attention from the start and keep you gripped throu First published in 1989, 'The Great And Secret Show' formed the first book of 'The Art' proposed trilogy. The novel is a complex weave of storylines, woven together to form this impressive and compelling tale of fantasy that sends you into a world with seemingly no limits. The novel not only opens up the reader's own imagination but brings forward suggestive images and ideas that remain with you for years to come. Barker manages to capture your attention from the start and keep you gripped throughout the 688 pages that form this beautifully crafted novel. The whole story is absolute genius that I would recommended to absolutely anyone who wishes to be taken into a world of the fantastic. The mysterious sea of Quiddity is intriguing and inspiring, bringing a majestic and surreal element to this hugely creative novel. The story has a fair sprinkling of the bizarre that hints towards Barker’s earlier horror work. As a series, I would definitely say that these first two books of the art have proven to be my favorite of all Barker’s work. ‘The Great And Secret Show’ was followed by the 1994 sequel 'Everville', which carries on perfectly from the first novel. A third and final volume is planned, but as Clive Barker announced in a past interview, the third installment has proved to be a real struggle and is finding itself to be longer than the first two volumes put together! Hopefully one day the novel will find itself finally being released. To quote Barker himself on the matter: “The third Book of the Art takes place in Quiddity, the Dream Sea. I have been planning that for five years, and have 500, maybe 600 pages of notes towards that novel. A week doesn’t go by without my contributing something to that”. If you haven’t already taken yourself on the voyage into these books, I urge you to take it up now. Enjoy!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Wordsmith

    After reading "Everville" I'm fired up again. THAT'S Book II of The Art. A five BTW. This review is being cobbled out, line by line. So many transfogmurations I've lost count. Still kicking it around though. Ok, granted, the final result is slower than waiting for Christmas Day on a leap year, but even that day is finally reached. I'm also sharing some relevant, revealing quotes given by Clive Barker relating not only to TGASS but to the nature of his general concepts of the dream state, the divine an After reading "Everville" I'm fired up again. THAT'S Book II of The Art. A five BTW. This review is being cobbled out, line by line. So many transfogmurations I've lost count. Still kicking it around though. Ok, granted, the final result is slower than waiting for Christmas Day on a leap year, but even that day is finally reached. I'm also sharing some relevant, revealing quotes given by Clive Barker relating not only to TGASS but to the nature of his general concepts of the dream state, the divine and demons all around for those with vision and above all, his love of literature. (Not to mention some cheats, shhh.) But they ARE interesting, so I made an executive decision to include them. [Not a literary one ; ) ] ************************************ Memory, Prophecy and Fantasy the past, the future and the dreaming moment between are all in one country— living one immortal day To know that is Wisdom To use it is the Art The Great and Secret Show **************************************** Between this world, called the Cosm—also called the Clay, also called the Helter Incendo—between this world and the Metacosm, also called the Alibi, also called the Exordium and The Lonely Place, is a sea called Quiddity—and on that sea, there's an island—It's called Ephemeris and there takes place The Great and Secret Show which we see three times. At birth, at death and for one night when we sleep beside the love of our lives. Nuncio-The Messenger Quiddity-The Dream Sea The Cosm-Our World The Metacosm-A Sealed Condition Of Being-The World Beyond The Sea The Ephmeris-Islands in and on Quiddity-The Great and Secret Show The Crossroads-Quiddity-Dreams-Minds-The Center of Everything The Iad-Uboros-The Other-Evil Beyond Evil-Behind The Veil-Beyond Quiddity The Shoal-Those Who Guard Quiddity One of the strongest, if not THE strongest theme, running through the entire length of the novel is that of our dreams. One could make an argument that this book is about The World Behind Our Dreams, Of Our Dreams, It IS Our Dreams. What do you think Barker was trying to convey to his readers on the deeper meaning of dreams? Many novels take this theme & run with it. That we are all living in a "dream" state. What is REALLY REAL and just who decides what is REAL in the end. If all is "mind"— well—the cosmic ramifications are enormous. Take the Matrix. Not the best example, I'll grant you that. But a story, a film most of us are familiar with. Do you remember the first time you saw it? Or had you already heard everything about it? If not, you might of sat back in your seat and gone "Whoa." Mind you, this book was written long before The Matrix. Not to mention, The Matrix is not pure dream state. Not that Mr. Barker is the first to present our "dream state as a state of our reality" in the form of a novel. He's not quite that original. But I have to say, a lot of his language is not only original, but sheer perfection. Masterful, lyrical, cunning, caring, deceitful, nasty, spiritual, he does know his theology, his mythology. He is well grounded in the grand tradition of literature and he respects it. He does push boundaries. He tests our limits. Personally, I don't have a problem with that. I like it. I had just read Weaveworld right before I read this book. A tale of the Seerkind. Magical people living for time beyond time in the weave of this very special rug, until one day.... it begins to unravel. A Great Book. Really, a precursor to The Great and Secret Show. Clive Barker's WeaveWorld was like a slippy-mind trip into this fantastical-realm which really took you into the Weave as sure as any Seerkind. THIS stuff brought to mind my reading days of yore. And let me assure you, it left me wanting more. So, I went a seeking. And like many seekers I sought what I was searching for when I came upon The Great And The Secret Show.  Now, it just so happens the timing of  this happened to of coincided with my discovery (not new scientifically, rather in a new, newer, infinitley more spiritual way) of quantam physics, particles, quarks, string theory, The Tao of Physics, of particle accelerators, the observer becoming the outcome, all this "not new" quantum theorizing was taking off in a big way, from what was observable to be think tanked to dry mouth as part of The Big Bang or String or Chaos or Bootstrap as part of whatever Theory de Jour all the way to what's been recorded in so many sacred texts passed down through the  centuries and across all those lost civilizations without so much as a magnifying glass much less a telescope or even a microscope the knowledge they had of the cosmic is, well, truly cosmic. Awe-Inspiring to say the least. Which brings me finally to some kind of point. Who and what are we? Eternal questions that have been asked since man had enough sense to question mundane utterances beyond "Where's my food?" and "I'm sure this goes somewhere, it sure wants to. Woman, I can't hardly explain. But I got a feeling. I. You." It was to early for love at this point. No former Beatles. Yet. Dreams however, have been around since the very beginning. Since that first collective as well as individual intake of air hit our gasping lungs we have been a dreaming species. We dream at night, the subconscious at work, sorting through the clutter and debris we continue to collect and hoard and hold onto like a life preserver. Some suffer nightmares, night terrors or other forms of somnambulistic forms that are a kind of inability to let go of that life preserver and float. We dream in the sun. We dream of life. Of better lives. For ourselves, our children, our family. We dream of riches, fame, happiness. External things. Dreams, we still believe, good dreams are the key to happiness. But is this true? ...TBC QUOTES: "One of the themes that fascinates me about English letters is that there is this very elaborate connective tissue between elements of the fantastique, whether it runs through what is sometimes called the 'Apocalyptic sublime' - William Blake, Beckford's Vathek, Byron, Coleridge - back to the more outlandish and baroque elements of Webster or Kidd or Greene - they all have these extremes, what in later tradition would be called grand guignol, a preoccupation with physical dismemberment, extremes of plotting against the person - daggers and poisons and secret boxes and the like - very often associated with sexual revenge. "The images of sex and of death are very often tied very close together. I think it is a line that runs in and out of poetry and later the novel, the theatre and a lot of painting too - Goya, Bosch, Breughel and, more latterly, Max Ernst and Francis Bacon. "The function of the 'unnatural' in the work of someone like William Blake is to open our eyes to possibilities. In the work of most American horror writers and film-makers, it is something to be totally repudiated and finally destroyed and there isn't the same celebration of strangeness and darkness and the world flipped which we see in European letters." ~ Clive Barker "Yes, people are surprised when they meet me, but I go to bed early, I don't do drugs. Maybe being normal is what's so weird. If people ask me what drug I'm on I quote Salvador Dali's line: 'I'm a drug. Take me...' "I write two and a half thousand words a day. I don't leave the desk until I've reached my quota." ~ Clive Barker "It's about our dream lives. An incalculable evil is moving out of another dimension to invade our reality. The book's about movies, pornography and love. It's my first big book about America. The Iad Uroboros have one ambition: to destroy our universe. They are big, dark and pissed off. The bulk of the book - I would say 90% - takes place in the real world. Only 10% takes place in Quiddity. But you know what my reality is like. My reality is open every minute to transformations, to transfigurations - a ghost haunted, vision haunted world in which magic and demonic doings can erupt at the slightest invitation... What preoccupies me in The Art is the idea of the dream show, what happens to us in the 25 years of our lives when we sleep. Our psychologies are so complex. We are telling stories to ourselves all the time. In the Great And Secret Show, the story is one which turns out to have a relevance beyond the realm of sleep. In other words, what we discover in the first book (albeit briefly, because there's a huge story yet to be told) is that sleep is a door, that dreams are more than casual fictions we whip up for our own delectation. Dreams are part of a matrix of mythologies where we are given clues for our survival and that intrigues me immensely. It's one of the reasons I love this kind of fiction. I value it because it's a manual for survival." ~ Clive Barker "I guess the whole thing is that we are now a de-deified society. We are a society without God and yet a little animal part of us still wants that God, needs those gods, and I'm trying to hold onto that kind of imagery and vocabulary." ~ Clive Barker "I am totally intrigued by the idea of creating deities and dominions, levels of reality which are metaphors for the dream process, the imaginative process, for the shamanistic investigation. I'm also fascinated by the idea of democratising it. The great thing about being able to present this to people in a movie or a book is that you make available to people these imaginative journeys which they can then do with what they will. It's their power. They are empowered... "We live in a very homogenised world. We live in a world which thrusts us, very early, into a position of 'be like the others, or be called inadequate.' These are ways which are limiting and simplifying. They take out the ambiguities in us, they tame out the paradoxes. The monstrous is a hint of variegation. Metaphorically what does this suggest? I think we're looking at the possibility of physical change as a metaphor for psychic change. We're seeing these as signs of our own protean nature." ~ Clive Barker "One of my responses to the idea of writing horror fiction is that one should always attempt to go to the limits. But in taking people to the limits, you should be very careful and calculating about the way you present information which is distressing. My response is to make the language more subtle, evocative, and exciting when what you just characterized as the 'gross-outs' occur. In other words, there should be a kind of relationship between the strength of the imagery and the way that it's represented. Language should never be more elastic, never more responsive, never more poetic than when something barbaric is happening. Because otherwise it's simply a gross-out. "There is an element of the visionary in the best horrific images and in books, an element of the transcendental; something that touches upon the dark mysteries of non-Christian religions - the cult of Kali or some of the darker Tantric imagery which values the monstrous as a necessary revelatory force. But you've got to be very careful with that stuff because if you present it simply as gross-out you don't get to the metaphysic behind it." ~ Clive Barker [Re: his imagination] "I'm not suggesting it's sent down by Venusians. My imagination is with me on a day-to-day basis. It's there. It's me. It's who I am... I forbid my thoughts nothing." ~ Clive Barker "I write imaginative fiction to the limits of my imagination and will continue to do so. My fiction will continue to be down and dirty, will continue to be visceral, erotic and graphic. What people want to call it is academic." ~ Clive Barker Cheat Sheet until I finish my own. : P Clive Barker - Lord of the Breed By Philip Nutman, No 91, April 1990 {Note : interview took place in June 1989} "Hopefully, readers will find some parts funny, some parts erotic and others chilling. It was a very tough book to write because of the scale of the ambition." Brit Clive Barker Masters Horror In Movies, Books By Gene Mierzejewski, Chicago Sun-Times, 1 March 1990 "On The Great and Secret Show, 'The New York Times Review of Books' said, 'If you don't like the new Thomas Pynchon try the new Clive Barker,' which was one of the nicest things anybody's ever said... "Going back to that 'New York Times' review, they described The Great and Secret Show as a cross between 'Gravity's Rainbow' and 'The Lord of the Rings', which seemed to me to be hugely indigestible." The Edge Interview By David Alexander, The Edge, 1991 "Presidents, messiahs, shamans, popes, saints and lunatics had attempted - over the passage of a millennium - to buy, murder, drug and flagellate themselves into Quiddity. Almost to a one, they'd failed. The dream-sea had been more or less preserved, its existence an exquisite rumour, never proved, and all the more potent for that. The dominant species of the Cosm had kept what little sanity it possessed by visiting the sea in sleep, three times in a life span, and leaving it, always wanting more. That hunger had fueled it. Made it ache; made it rage. Made it do good in the hope, often unconscious, of being granted more regular access. Made it do evil out of the idiot suspicion that it was conspired against by its enemies, who knew the secret but weren't telling. Made it create gods. Made it destroy gods." Londoner's Diary Evening Standard, 23rd January 1989 David J. Howe : "Barker admits it was a conscious decision not to use the same intricate, detailed style of the previous books, but to attempt a lightness of touch to compliment the wide breadth of narrative that it encompasses...The Great and Secret Show reveals a different side to Barker, more restrained, and yet as imaginative as we have come to expect from this master storyteller." *Clive Barker's Secret Show By David J. Howe, Starburst, No.133, September 1989 William A. Henry III: "Like most fantasy novelists, Barker does not feel compelled to be logical or consistent: the dream-like narrative has a kitchen-sink inclusiveness and cheats the rationalist in that characters turn out in mid-action to be someone else entirely, cunningly disguised. But the images are vivid, the asides incisive and the prose elegant in this joyride of a story."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This was one of the worst books I've ever read - very possibly THE worst. I am just amazed by all of the positive feedback on Goodreads. This was my first Clive Barker novel, and it will be my last. I almost stopped reading it too many times to count, but I just hate stopping novels. I want to get through to the end and be able to rate it as a whole (which was absolute torture in this case). Where to begin? It felt like I was reading a screenplay for some cheesy horror film with a budget of $500 This was one of the worst books I've ever read - very possibly THE worst. I am just amazed by all of the positive feedback on Goodreads. This was my first Clive Barker novel, and it will be my last. I almost stopped reading it too many times to count, but I just hate stopping novels. I want to get through to the end and be able to rate it as a whole (which was absolute torture in this case). Where to begin? It felt like I was reading a screenplay for some cheesy horror film with a budget of $500. I didn't give a damn about any of the characters. The dialogue was the worst I've ever read; it made the characters seem like complete idiots and it was not plausible in any way, shape, or form. The number of taboo subjects he covers is astounding. I am not easily offended and generally welcome a taboo topic in a story here or there - if I care about the characters it can add a little excitement or drama, sure! In this book it is completely without purpose so it comes across as crude and seems he is trying to offend as many people as possible. *Spoilers below* The synopsis makes it seem like this is a book of good versus evil. I knew I was in a bit of trouble when Part 1 proved that the "good" character, Fletcher, was a suicidal drug addict who really doesn't give a shit about anyone, let alone saving the world. It is only out of guilt that he goes after the evil character, Jaffe. What a pal! There really ARE no good guys in this story. The woman Tesla comes in about halfway and out of nowhere she's supposed to be the main good character, after having a 2 minute conversation with Fletcher before he dies. Sorry, not buying it! Let's talk about the sexual taboos. A twin brother lusts after his twin sister. There's a scene with a woman and a dog (no reason!). Dudes getting random hardons all over the place. An elderly man (this one takes the cake for me) gets jerked off by insects and comes onto his own feces from which little monsters are born and go after people to kill them. WHAT?!?! The word cun* is frequently used as well. It's used in the context of a woman thinking about her own body! "I like my cun* and tight ass." Excuse me??? I guess there COULD be women who think of themselves that way, but I'm sure not one of them, and I find it impossible to relate to a character (the "good" woman character!) who does. That pretty much sums up why I hated this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Holloway

    I have long considered myself to be a collector of good horror. (in itself a seemingly diametrically opposed descriptor...) But this book really rips the sheet off of the things we don't dare ever face, let alone think about while accentuating their terrible beauty in muted fascination... managing to engulf you in a very accessible series of fantastical and, at first glance, unrelated sub-plots/events that culminate in more than a few hints at; revolutionary concepts concerning the ph I have long considered myself to be a collector of good horror. (in itself a seemingly diametrically opposed descriptor...) But this book really rips the sheet off of the things we don't dare ever face, let alone think about while accentuating their terrible beauty in muted fascination... managing to engulf you in a very accessible series of fantastical and, at first glance, unrelated sub-plots/events that culminate in more than a few hints at; revolutionary concepts concerning the philosophy and religion, of evolution, human nature and the existence of more dimensions of reality than what meets the eye. Clive Barker makes you taste color, see music and redefine your accepted experience! of the soul.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael Kress

    I just finished reading The Great and Secret Show for the 3rd time. It's a masterpiece of metaphysical fiction and I believe it’s Clive Barker's greatest work. The character development is the best of any book I've read. There are many characters, and most of them play an important role; I could relate to each one, or at least I could imagine what it would be like to have them in my life. This is the first time I’ve felt I could comment on so many of the major characters of a book, and that's wh I just finished reading The Great and Secret Show for the 3rd time. It's a masterpiece of metaphysical fiction and I believe it’s Clive Barker's greatest work. The character development is the best of any book I've read. There are many characters, and most of them play an important role; I could relate to each one, or at least I could imagine what it would be like to have them in my life. This is the first time I’ve felt I could comment on so many of the major characters of a book, and that's what I’ll attempt to do in this review. Randolph Jaffe: I suppose Jaffe could be considered the protagonist; he's the first major character to be introduced, he discovers the Art, and he remains part of the story until the end. But there are other characters as important as he is. The story of how he discovers the Art is fascinating. The Dead Letter Room at the Omaha Central Post Office is where letters that never find their destination go to die. Jaffe studies them and gets hints from the letter-writers to the nature of the Art, a collective imagination, if you will. He leaves the Dead Letter Room and heads out on a journey to obtain this Art. Homer: He's not really a major character because he gets killed off rather quickly. He's one of those jerk-bosses that most people have had at least a few times in their lives. His employee at the Post Office, Jaffe, seems to have worked for a lot of people like him in his pathetic life. Once Jaffe discovers the secret of the Art, he realizes he doesn't have to put up with his condescending attitude anymore, so before he quits his job, he murders Homer. Kissoon: There are some gross, creepy characters in this book, but Kissoon is by far the worst. Back long ago, he was a member of the Shoal. The Shoal was a small, cult-like religion that gained control of the metaphysical world (achieving what other religions only attempted). They used the Art to access Quiddity, the dream sea, which was made up of people's thoughts. Kissoon lives in a shack in a time-loop that he created; it's the only place he can stay safe. Jaffe is the first character he pulls into the loop. He tries to occupy Jaffe's body, so he can leave the loop and pursue the Art. However, Jaffe escapes Kissoon's advances and continues his journey. Later, Kissoon will draw other characters into his loop. Richard Wesley Fletcher: This is the character that will become Jaffe's arch-rival. Fletcher is the good-guy and Jaffe is the bad-guy (although it's not quite that simple). In his lab at the Misión de Santa Catrina, he develops a potion called the Nuncio that allows people to access the Art when they ingest it. Jaffe finds the mission and confronts Fletcher; they fight over the Nuncio and both end up drinking part of it. Then Jaffe sets out across the United States with Fletcher pursuing him; they battled by manipulating the minds of humans and animals. They finally grow tired and land in a cave in Palamo Grove, California where they will stay until the League of Virgins arrive. Raul: He’s the most lovable, innocent character in the book. He was an ape until Fletcher experimented on him by giving him the Nuncio, causing him to evolve and become an ugly, bizarre half-human/half-ape. He stays with Fletcher at the Misión de Santa Catrina until Jaffe and Fletcher have their battle and leave; after that he waits patiently several years for Fletcher (his master) to come back. However, Fletcher dies before he ever has a chance to come back. Raul doesn’t really play a major role in the story until later when Tesla arrives at the Mission and they both go on some crazy adventures! Tesla Bombeck: She is probably the most relevant character besides Jaffe; she arrives on the scene a little later but is a constant until the end. She is recruited by Fletcher to do his work and, with the help of Raul, works to carry out his mission after his death. At the start of Part Two: The League of Virgins, Arleen Farrell, Carolyn Hotchkiss, Joyce McGuire, and Trudi Katz go bathe in the cave where the spirits of Jaffe and Fletcher are trapped. They all become possessed with a desire to get pregnant by surrogate fathers, so they can have the children of Jaffe and Fletcher. Arleen Farrell: She is the most attractive of the four virgins. After she becomes possessed, her plan for getting pregnant is to sneak out of her parents’ house every night and head down to a local dive bar called The Slick where she is promiscuous with several men. However, she is unable to get pregnant. She ends up going insane and staying in a mental hospital. Lawrence Farrell: He is Arleen’s father. He tries to stop her from being wild, but to no avail. One night he follows her to The Slick where he finds her in an orgy. He tries to stop the men from having sex with her but ends up being assaulted. She is oblivious to his injuries, causing him humiliation and despair. He ends up suing and getting The Slick shut down. Carolyn Hotchkiss: She is overweight and the most insecure of the four girls. She finds an older man named Edgar Lott to impregnate her, then cuts ties when she is done with him. She gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl, but the boy was delivered dead. After she realizes the true horror of her situation, she kills her daughter and commits suicide. Jim Hotchkiss: He is Carolyn’s father. He doesn’t play a significant role in the story until much later in Part Seven: Souls at Zero. Here he is portrayed as someone who has an unhealthy obsession with the memory of his daughter. He teams up with Tesla, Grillo, and William Witt to retrieve Jaffe from the cave where he is hiding so he can aid them in the battle over Quiddity. Joyce McGuire: She already had a crush on Randy Krentzman before the cave incident, so her decision to pursue him for sex was an easy one. She gives birth to twins Jo-Beth and Tommy-Ray, two major characters in the book. Jaffe is their surrogate father. She and her children continue to live together in Palamo Grove; she becomes devoutly religious and has contempt for Jaffe, hoping to never encounter him again. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way. Trudi Katz: She seduces a gardener named Ralph Contreras at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church who will never tell of their affair. Fletcher is the surrogate father of her son, Howard. She and her infant son move to Chicago to get away from Palamo Grove; she will never return, but Howie will. William Witt: He is a voyeur who spies on the four virgins while they are bathing in the cave. He holds this scene dear in his memory for the rest of his life. As an adult, he becomes a realtor who is secretly obsessed with pornography. He has an altercation with Jaffe and Tommy-Ray at Buddy Vance’s house where he encounters a terata. Since Quiddity has been somewhat revealed to him, his fantasies materialize, and he spends most of his time living them out, rarely leaving the house. His fate is to die at the bottom of Jaffe’s cave when he goes down there with Tesla, Grillo, and Jim. Buddy Vance: He is a 54-year-old comedian once named “the funniest man in the world.” He has lived a self-destructive, hedonistic lifestyle and goes out for a jog one morning in an attempt to be healthier. During his jog, he is lured into Jaffe’s and Fletcher’s cave with the ghost-image of the League of Virgins. Jaffe steals a terata from his soul; he uses it to escape into the Grove and continue with his work. Buddy dies before Fletcher can retrieve anything from his soul. Jaffe sets up shop in Buddy’s house, using it in his attempt to control the Art. After his death, his house, widow, and mistress all play significant roles in the book’s plot. Grillo: He’s a journalist who gets sucked into the world of The Art because of his investigation of Vance’s death. After that, he becomes a major player in something he only wanted to report on, but he never loses his passion for journalism. Howard Katz: After his mother Trudi dies in Chicago, he decides to go to Palamo Grove to discover the mysteries of his birth. There, he meets Jo-Beth and immediately falls in love with her. Because their surrogate fathers are enemies, their relationship is problematic. Jo-Beth McGuire: She has always had an abnormally close relationship with her twin-brother, Tommy-Ray, but her love for Howie changes that, causing conflict and jealousy. Although Jaffe is the surrogate father of the siblings, she comes around to Fletcher’s and Howie’s side in the battle over the Art. Tommy-Ray McGuire: Jaffe recruits Tommy-Ray to work for him. One of his jobs is to find people with a lot of fear in their hearts and to retrieve terata from their souls. He and Jaffe lure people to a room in Buddy Vance’s house where they use the terata to force these victims to reveal the secrets of their souls. Jaffe sends him on a trip to the Misión de Santa Catrina to get the remaining Nuncio. He gets into an altercation with Tesla (Fletcher’s ally) and they both receive a portion of the Nuncio. He returns to the Grove, recruiting an army of dead spirits on the way. That’s about as comprehensive as I’d like to make this list right now. There are minor characters not on here, and I didn’t realize how many there were until I started writing it. Hopefully this will give you an idea of how engaging and complex this book is and the effect it had on me.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    To start with a main character who was completely unlikeable made the experience heavy and exhausting from the beginning. I persevered but then came the introduction of things like quiddity and ‘the art’ which just didn’t resonate with me as a reader. It felt not only nonsensical but actually quite boring.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mark Young

    I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this. But Barker’s prose flows like magic and was hooked and under his spell from the get-go. There wasn’t a single dull moment. The Great and Secret Show reminded of Neil Gaiman’s work and the big stories and themes he likes to write about, with a touch of Stephen King’s It and The Stand thrown in, all mixed with Clive’s own wonderful creations. This epic adventure blends dark fantasy and horror superbly; getting better and more exciting with I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this. But Barker’s prose flows like magic and was hooked and under his spell from the get-go. There wasn’t a single dull moment. The Great and Secret Show reminded of Neil Gaiman’s work and the big stories and themes he likes to write about, with a touch of Stephen King’s It and The Stand thrown in, all mixed with Clive’s own wonderful creations. This epic adventure blends dark fantasy and horror superbly; getting better and more exciting with every chapter as the tension builds to a mind blowing climax. Great characters. Great story. Great writing. Whether you’re a fan of dark fantasy or horror or even both, this is definitely one to read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    George

    First of all I'd like to say that I am absolutely fascinated by Clive Barker, his writings and his images. Once I saw a documentary about him, in which his drawings of various monsters were shown, they were awesome. What's more, he said he just saw these images in his mind; he didn't think them up, he just saw them! After I read Imajica and saw Clive in the flesh when he was visiting the premiere of 'Lord of Illusions' here in Amsterdam, I just knew I would always try to keep track of whatever h First of all I'd like to say that I am absolutely fascinated by Clive Barker, his writings and his images. Once I saw a documentary about him, in which his drawings of various monsters were shown, they were awesome. What's more, he said he just saw these images in his mind; he didn't think them up, he just saw them! After I read Imajica and saw Clive in the flesh when he was visiting the premiere of 'Lord of Illusions' here in Amsterdam, I just knew I would always try to keep track of whatever he's doing. Now, about the book. It's the second Clive Barker I've read, and although I liked Imajica better, I was again anxious to finish the book as well as 'scared' of finishing it and returning from this dreamlike world to my everyday world. I love Barker's sense of humour, and he writes in such a way that the occurring events aren't as unthinkable as they were before you started reading the book. My favourite part of the book is probably the shaping of the Jaffe's terata, and the dreaming up of the town's people favourite people, from tv or real life. I especially liked the idea of William Witt's house full of copulating pornstars, entertaining themselves with his huge collection of bow ties. Anyway, I would have given this book 5 stars if it wasn't for Imajica which I liked better. And if you somehow get to read this Clive, come visit Amsterdam again sometime soon.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    This is one of the best books I have read; it has everything you want to read about - intense gore, weird sex, and awesome characters. A large number of characters appear in the book, but the book is long enough for the reader to get to know each of them. What appears to be a mess of different storylines at first, slowly but eventually weaves together to form a truly impressive tale. When starting the book, it's hard to imagine what kind of story this could possibly be, but stick with it and you This is one of the best books I have read; it has everything you want to read about - intense gore, weird sex, and awesome characters. A large number of characters appear in the book, but the book is long enough for the reader to get to know each of them. What appears to be a mess of different storylines at first, slowly but eventually weaves together to form a truly impressive tale. When starting the book, it's hard to imagine what kind of story this could possibly be, but stick with it and you will be hooked. 'The Great and Secret Show' includes some very graphic and incredibly strange imagery. Some descriptions will make you feel quesy, and others will make you want to look away but unable to resist reading more. Clive Barker has an imagination unlike any other author I have come across; some of the ideas he conjures are so alien that you will be thinking (or unintentionally shouting out loud), "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!?". I am looking forward to reading the sequel: 'Everville'. Clive Barker is one of my favourite authors, I have read volumes 1-6 of his 'Books of Blood' series and this book is written in a similar style (dark humour, violence, and just plain weird). If you are a fan of horror/dark fantasy then this is the book for you.

  26. 5 out of 5

    James Parsons

    This was the first of what was a suggested trilogy from Barker, now exploring and telling a very creative, inventive fantastical and spiritual while dream-like tale. Not as truly mind blowing and stunning in scope as his immense Imajica novel, this first part of this tale-which can be read as a single book, is strange, unusual, adventurous and almost unpredictable. It draws in elements of fantasy, religious tale, spirituality, dream and reality and also at times horror and terror as well wr This was the first of what was a suggested trilogy from Barker, now exploring and telling a very creative, inventive fantastical and spiritual while dream-like tale. Not as truly mind blowing and stunning in scope as his immense Imajica novel, this first part of this tale-which can be read as a single book, is strange, unusual, adventurous and almost unpredictable. It draws in elements of fantasy, religious tale, spirituality, dream and reality and also at times horror and terror as well written as Barker is known for. This is not at all pure classic fantasy as known in that genre, it does not really very often have regular horror elements, but it does hold a strong, bizarre and epic tale, some fascinating characters which move along through a unique personal fantastical journey. Like some modern new myth, this is very strange, some times funny, disgusting, wild, and amazing from the first to last page.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    This book was so awesome. It is really intense and suspenseful, I couldn't put it down and ended up reading it in like three days. The book is about a battle between good and evil, waged over possession of the dream sea called Quiddity which I guess is essentially the collective human subconscious. The battle is between two hyper-evolved humans who can raise their own soldiers from, respectively, the dreams and fears of humans. These soldiers are called terata (fears) and hallucingia (dreams). T This book was so awesome. It is really intense and suspenseful, I couldn't put it down and ended up reading it in like three days. The book is about a battle between good and evil, waged over possession of the dream sea called Quiddity which I guess is essentially the collective human subconscious. The battle is between two hyper-evolved humans who can raise their own soldiers from, respectively, the dreams and fears of humans. These soldiers are called terata (fears) and hallucingia (dreams). There are many other interesting characters in this story as well. The story is very scary, it reminds me somewhat of Hellraiser, like all Clive Barker books do. It seems the common theme in his stories are puzzles that open doorways to another realm. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in horror, and more specifically metaphysical realms and wizardry (for lack of a more precise term).

  28. 5 out of 5

    April Cote

    I couldn't do. I freaking tried, I really did. It got so many rave reviews so my hopes were high. The beginning was great. The concept really worked, but at part three it was like the book was taken over by another author, a bad one at that. The characters became empty, there was nothing to them. And the supposed scary parts, to me, were B-movie laughable. Not scary or even creepy at all. The dialogue became flat as well as the characters. I had to stop. The thought that after 600 something page I couldn't do. I freaking tried, I really did. It got so many rave reviews so my hopes were high. The beginning was great. The concept really worked, but at part three it was like the book was taken over by another author, a bad one at that. The characters became empty, there was nothing to them. And the supposed scary parts, to me, were B-movie laughable. Not scary or even creepy at all. The dialogue became flat as well as the characters. I had to stop. The thought that after 600 something pages, there were two other books to continue, helped me to quickly realize it was not a story even worth making myself finish.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jules

    Clive Barker is my favourite author, because he's been taking my mind to places I didn't think possible, since I was 10 years old!!! I'd love to re-read many of his books. This is one of my favourite books by him.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tina Saldiran

    Let me start by saying that in all the decades of avid reading that I have done, there are maybe a handful of books I couldn't finish. No matter how bad the plot, how sophomoric the writing, how irksome the characters I always aim to finish books, if for nothing else, then simply as a show of respect to the writer to took the time and put in the work to write it. This book, however, simply made it impossible for me. I am a fan of a wide array of genres - anything from serious literatu Let me start by saying that in all the decades of avid reading that I have done, there are maybe a handful of books I couldn't finish. No matter how bad the plot, how sophomoric the writing, how irksome the characters I always aim to finish books, if for nothing else, then simply as a show of respect to the writer to took the time and put in the work to write it. This book, however, simply made it impossible for me. I am a fan of a wide array of genres - anything from serious literature to full blown fantasy, from science to science-fiction will end up on my reading list. I'm one of those people who don't have a "favorite" genre but rather "favorite books". So my rating has nothing to do with the concept of the book. This book starts off with an interesting idea: a man suddenly discovers a secret trail of signs that lead him to what some might call a shadowy cult, a force behind the curtain of events shaping humanity. Sounds great so far. Then Barker adds in a wholesome dash of magic, unproportionate mysticism, tries to fill in the gaping holes of logic with highly dubious pseudo-science and decides what the heck - why not pull all the stoppers and go all out? The characters are cardboard cutouts. None of their emotions or their actions make sense. When they are in love, they just can't look away from each other's eyes; when they are angry they huff and puff. I mean I've seen more sophisticated cartoons. The story starts with feet planted on the ground then proceeds to exceed the definition of exaggeration and turns into one of those Japanese cartoons where it simply won't do do show strength by blowing shit up - entire planets need to be decimated by the action hero for us to get how awesome super strong he is. When gaping holes with question marks appear, some magic trick -or make that ten!- saves the day. Seriously - it is really, really bad. Even so, usually an author's prose can save a book when all else fails, however Clive Barker has absolutely none. Maybe it's one of those books you have to be extremely high to appreciate, I don't know, but this book failed in every department for me and reading became a complete bore. If the rating had allowed me to give it zero stars, I would have.

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