Abarat, by Clive Barker


Three stars, read in 2010.

This book is as interesting as the cover looks. It’s almost 400 pages, but goes quickly because many of the pages are beautiful, full-sized illustrations done by the author. Barker has a kind of impressionist style, and the characters and places in the book are imaginative, sometimes a bit grotesque. Even the setting provides intriguing imagery: a fantasy land where every island represents a different hour of the day, and a human protagonist brought from her own world to save Abarat from the evil that threatens it.

The story itself is very creative, although I found some of the names a bit silly (the main character is Candy Quackenbush and she comes from Chickentown). There’s plenty of the too-obvious humor that adolescent lit often has, but the writing is also lovely in places, and occasionally I would read sentences and then reread them because they were surprisingly beautiful. I’m not generally into horror, which is what most of Barker’s adult books are, but I would certainly like to read the sequel to this one.

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