Cabal (novella)

Discussion in 'Books' started by Dave, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. Dave

    Dave Pimp

    Sep 28, 1999
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    Boston, MA
    [​IMG]Reviewer: Dave
    Review Date: October 17, 2014

    Released by: Crossroad Press
    Release date: 1/30/2014
    MSRP: Various
    Kindle, Paperback, Audio

    The written works of Clive Barker have escaped me until now. That's mostly my fault. As a kid, I was a Stephen King whore. Like horror in film, it took me a long time to branch out. But branch out I have. With the release of the Nightbreed: Director's Cut by Scream Factory, I thought now would be a great time to visit Cabal, the novella by Clive Barker that the movie is based on. In particular, I decided to read Cabal before watching the Director's Cut bluray. While I have seen the theatrical cut of Nightbreed, it's been several years and my memories of it have faded. This is all going to be fresh and new for me. My order of consumption will be as follows: Cabal (novella), Nightbreed: Theatrical bluray, Nightbreed: Director's Cut bluray. I'm excited! In nearly all instances of big screen adaptations, the book reigns supreme and the movie falls short. As a reader I understand this. While a book can have hundreds upon hundreds of pages to develop characters and describe scenes in limitless detail, a movie is constrained by its runtime. A good director will overcome this challenge and at least get the movie within striking distance of living up to a book, especially if the writer and director are the same person, as is the case with Cabal.

    Released in 1988 as a novella, Cabal followed Barker's successful, and massive (673 pages), Weaveworld. This particular version of Cabal runs just shy of 200 pages. Lets take a look at Clive Barker's Cabal.

    The Story

    Aaron Boone is an unstable individual. He's been under the care of a doctor named Decker for the past five years. He has a girlfriend, Lori, but their relationship is troubled. At their latest session, Decker produces several graphic photographs depicting various scenes of gruesome murders where the victims have been slashed into unrecognisable pieces. Boone has no recollection of the murders but Decker suspects he is responsible. Decker hopes his suspicions are wrong. Boone comes to believe he is the killer and contemplates turning himself in. He reluctantly agrees to take medication while Decker continues his therapy in an attempt to reveal the truth. After days of no progress, Boone abandons hope and attempts to end his life. He fails and ends up in a hospital where he meets a fellow patient named Narcisse. Narcisse is rambling of a place called Midian that provides refuge to monsters like Boone.

    Boone travels to Midian and at its cemetery he meets a variety of shape-shifting creatures known as the Nightbreed. They tell Boone that he is clean man and no bloodshed was caused by his hands. He returns to town where he is met by Decker and the police. There's a confrontation and Boone is shot dozens of times. His lifeless body is brought to the local morgue where it vanishes without a trace that same night.

    After hearing of the body's disappearance, Lori is determined to find out what happened. She heads to Midian. Along the way she befriends a women named Sheryl. The two travel to Midian together. When Lori makes a solo trip to the cemetery, she meets some of the Nightbreed and ends up saving one from the certain death that comes when they're exposed to the sun. The leader of the Nightbreed, Mr. Lylesburg, tells Lori to go and forget everything she has seen. She refuses, telling him she deserves information on Boone for saving one of their lives. She leaves with no information, only to return a short while later after being chased back by a killer in a white linen mask with a zipper for a mouth and buttons for eyes. Boone appears, now part of the Nightbreed, insisting he be allowed to save Lori. He's warned if he does so, he is no longer part of them. Boone has no choice; he has to save her. He confronts the killer and begins to learn the many secrets surrounding the horrific murders he is accused of. The killer escapes, leaving Boone abandoned by the Nightbreed. Boones and Lori flee the cemetery. An epic battle begins to take shape as a final confrontation nears. Boone and Lori must face the masked killer in order to save the Nightbreed and their sanctuary at Midian.

    I was pleasantly surprised by Clive Barker's Cabal. Not having much memory of the movie Nightbreed, I went into this novella with a fresh mindset and nothing to compare it with. A comparison is always nice when possible; be sure to look for my Nightbreed: Limited Edition bluray review where I'll do just that, in particular comparing this novella against the new director's cut of the movie.

    Nightbreed is a dark, mysterious tale of a young man without a sense of identity. He loves but struggles with that love. He's exploited, manipulated, and lost. When he at last finds a home with the Nightbreed, he has to make a decision to abandon it or sacrifice Lori, the human he once loved. She, in turn, never gives up on him - dead or alive, human or beast. She loves him and refuses to live without him. It's a sad tale featuring a slasher angle with the masked killer and a supernatural element with the Nightbreed.

    As a reader I was left wanting more out of Cabal. That's not always a bad thing. Some stories suffer with more detail. The story becomes long winded and bogged down. Sometimes it is better for the reader to use their imagination. Was Barker right in keeping things short? I don't know the answer to that. With little back story, we are left wondering about the intentions and history of the masked killer. We get peeks at the killer's thoughts and motives, but I wanted to know more on how that person became such a ruthless killer. The same can be said for Boone. Why and how did he end up under the care of the doctor? And what about Lori? Or Narcisse? Lets not forget the Nightbreed themselves. How did they come to be? Why did they take refuge under Midian? It's touched upon in the book briefly; I just couldn't help wanting to know more.

    The only part to Cabal I would complain about is an awkward sex scene that seems out of place and forced. I'm all for some good old fashioned sex to heat things up but this just doesn't fit (no pun intended). It's a scene where Lori is trying to get Boone's spirits up, so I guess the sex makes sense but in the background you have a mob of people after them. It just seemed out of place to me. And sometimes going over the top with graphic sex descriptions seems like just that; like you're trying too much to be over the top.

    There isn't a lot of character development and that's often one of the things I demand out of a story. As I described above, I want to know about the characters and their history. I want to know how and why they do what they do. Most importantly, it makes me care about them and what happens to them. Even with the little development we get, Barker weaves a story that horror fans are going to enjoy. You have a crazed killer, lots of bloodshed, and shape shifting creatures. There's a love story here and you can't help but feel for Boone as he is constantly kicked and beaten down, seemingly never getting a chance at happiness or peace.

    It's a short read and one that I recommend. There's a lot to enjoy with Cabal, even if you are left wanting more. Perhaps someday Barker will grant us that wish.

    Final Thoughts

    I was pleasantly surprised by Cabal. I went in with a notion that a short book couldn't be all that enjoyable and I'm happy to report Clive Barker proved me wrong. While character development can be important, extensive development isn't necessarily essential. Fans of horror literature are bound to enjoy this one, even if you are left wanting more of it. Recommended.

    Note: The Amazon Kindle ebook incorrectly states a page count of 368 pages. Apparently the print version of Cabal includes some short stories as well as the novella. The Kindle ebook is actually just under 200 pages and is the novella only.


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    Story - B

    Last edited: Sep 7, 2015

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