Review: Mister B. Gone

Mister B. Gone, by Clive Barker

Arghhhhhh. I am the victim of those sly tricksters called the marketing department who ply their evil trade on unsuspecting bibliophiles such as myself. Why, oh why, do I not better guard against this?
Burn this book.
Go on. Quickly, while there's still time. Burn it. Don't look at another word. Did you hear me? Not. One. More. Word.
Mister B. Gone, by Clive Barker

The Short Synopsis
A nasty little demon by the name of Jakabok Botch is fished out of the ninth circle of hell and brought up to our world by those who would sell him for profit. He promptly escapes and spends the next few hundred years wreaking havoc on humankind in all sorts of grotesque ways. On the way, he makes friends with another hideous demon called Quitoon and together they seek out important human inventions throughout the Middle Ages. Eventually ending up at the home of Johannes Gutenberg (yes, of printing press fame), Jakabok is witness to the negotiations between Heaven and Hell's representatives as they hammer out an agreement as to who will profit most from Gutenberg's historical invention. Ultimately, he ends up within the pages of this novel, telling you his own story.

The Literary Criticism
This had the makings of a terrific tale. A demon caught in the pages of a book and revealing the secrets of Heaven and Hell? By any estimation, this is an inventive premise.
"Oh but, sir," Gutenberg said, a sudden passion in his voice and manner, "a new age is about to begin. Once which will rid this world of cruelty you've seen by giving men a cure for their ignorance, which is where all cruelty beings."
Mister B. Gone, by Clive Barker
But somewhere between the premise and the telling of the story, opportunity was lost. Instead of following the trail of mankind's role in good and evil, Barker reverts to graphic descriptions of torture machines and the myriad of ways there are to disembowel a person. In some cases, less is more.

Every so often, I detected the rumblings of what could have been a much better novel. A phrase here, a philosophical underlining there, but nothing ever came of it. Instead, the author would revert back to pages upon pages (upon pages) of entreaties to burn the book and the terrible things that would happen to me if I did not heed the warnings. Perhaps I ought to have listened?

As to Jakabok himself, I never quite felt his anger or his pain (though perhaps this is a good thing). Barker tells us that Jakabok developed quite a close friendship with Quitoon, but the relationship was never fully convincing nor explored. Instead of examining the human-like qualities of the two demons, Barker chose to focus on describing what I am assuming were meant to be unspeakable horrors. Sadly, in this day and age of desensitization, the graphic descriptions only caused me to involuntarily roll my eyes.

There were quite a few grammatical errors, such as switching tenses in mid-sentence, but I can't blame the author for that business. Rather, that would be the purveyance of the editor, who dropped the ball here.

Are there any good points? Well the marketing team clearly did their job well. The clippings, the aging of the pages to resemble an old manuscript ... all exceptional work. If I wrote a book, I would want this team working for me. After all, they managed to trick a skeptical reader like myself here.

(A refresher for those of you who have forgotten Dante's nine ten circles of hell.)

The Recommendation
I cannot, in good conscious, encourage you to spend your hard-earned money on this novel. Don't take my word for it: ask Brian Baker who aptly titled his review Mister B. Gone, and he took my money with him. Mr. Barker has written many fine novels in the past and if you're interested in his work, you'd do better to try The Hellhound Heart: A Novel or even Abarat. Creepy stuff right there. Perhaps this book is best reserved for die-hard Barker fans if for no other reason than to complete a collection. (I feel your OCD...really, I do.)

Two Stars

Title: Mister B. Gone
Author: Clive Barker
ISBN-13: 978-0061562495
256 long, long pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Date: Reprint edition (October 21, 2008)

Other Reviews in BlogLand:

Chased in a Dream
The Keyboard is Mightier Than the Pen
Nevar23's Blog
Life's Context
Robots and Vamps
A New Dawn for the Dead
Six Impossible Things
Take Your Mask Off. Breathe.
Sci Fi Weekly
Killer Kittens From Beyond the Grave (and if you don't laugh at that blog title, then I don't know what's wrong with you!)


  1. Terrific review, as always. And thanks for the warning. The plot does seem promising, and I would have easily fallen prey.

  2. I will avoid this one, because poor editing really bugs me.

  3. I wouldn't have read this anyway, but appreciate the honesty!

  4. Drat, it looked like a cool book, too. (Once again judging the book by it's cover, you think I would have learned by now).

    Then tenth circle? I think it sould be bumped up to at least the seventh, with a temporary bump to fifth at the holidays. I had to sit in one of those seats to go to training this week. I forget what torture they are, the poor pax!

  5. Oh, Michele, this books sounds painful. Your review was very funy to read though!


  6. Beth - I'm like a moving target for these marketers...I'm always falling prey. Argh.

    Kathy - you and me, both. One of my pet peeves.

    Tara - honesty is the order of the day around this joint. ;)

    Carey - is the worst. Every six months I start getting hives over it! Hope you made it through with no hives.

    Shana - I guess we all get to take one for the team every now and again, huh?

  7. When I first read the first lines - I was like - please this is not the way to review - come on! :D

    But well u have been honest but polite :)

    And Yah! Thanks for the heads - up, I am not even going to THINK about this one!

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