The Books of Abarat: Clive Barker

The Books of Abarat Clive Barker Book
by Clive Barker

Book Comments & Discussion (2)

The Books of Abarat are a series of fantasy novels that are both written and beautifully illustrated by Clive Barker. Barker is an accomplished director, artist, playwright, and author of numerous novels. He is perhaps best known for his horror fiction. Abarat, though it isn't lacking for scary creatures and frightening situations, took quite the fantastical departure from some of Barker's earlier work.

The Books of Abarat take place primarily in the fictional archipelago known as the Abarat. What is so unique and enthralling about this archipelago is that it contains 25 islands, each of which represents an hour of the day. The 25th island is known as "the Time Out of Time."

It is in this fictional environment that Barker bases his story. Creating such a unique word gave him the freedom to unleash the most amazing and paradoxical aspects of his imagination. The sheer, imaginative scope of these books can not be stressed enough, and it is probably due to the fact that The Books of Abarat originally started off as a series of paintings back in 1995.

Barker later expanded his paintings into a story as more and more ideas about this world came to him. The fact that the characters and locations were visual before they were written down helped to lend both to their whimsy and, oddly enough, to their realism.

Barker's alien world could not be more different from ours, and yet somehow all of it just works. The interesting characters are a huge part of what makes this series more than just another fantasy novel. Not all of the characters are likable (some are even the stuff of nightmares!) but Barker manages to give them such compelling motivations and back stories than you can't help but wonder what they are going to do next and how everything will work out for them.

One of the most likable and most intriguing characters is the main protagonist, Candy Quakenbush. This spirited sixteen-year-old takes her fate into her own hands at the beginning of the series and doesn't look back. She finds herself in the Abarat and must rely on her own skills and intelligence to survive.

The Books of Abarat are full of magic, suspense, plot twists, surprises, and even some of the horror that Barker writes so well. They are billed as a young adult series, but almost anyone can pick them up and get lost in the world of Abarat.
Any young adult novel filled with strange creatures and set in a strange land lends itself to comparison with both Alice in Wonderland and The Phantom Tollbooth. Some other adolescent fiction contains only fairies and talking animals, such as the Chronicles of Narnia, but books like Alice and Tollbooth contain not only talking animals and physics-defying occurrences, but also beasts that do not exist in the world with which we are familiar. Abarat by Cive Barker is rife with such creatures: one man, John Mischief, has one normal head and seven “brothers,” which consist of seven other heads at the ends of antler prongs growing out from his “normal” head. In Abarat, squids become binoculars and sea-skippers offer means of aquatic transportation where none is otherwise available. Abarat, like the Chronicles of Narnia and A Wrinkle in Time, realizes that its magic must have a pure source in order to be good magic, and plays respectfully with the idea of deity . As in L’Engle’s classic, there are three mysterious and powerful wise women that make a brief appearance in Abarat, and somewhat similar to the game layout in Catching Fire, the world of the Abarat islands is sectioned into hours like an enormous clock face. But unlike L’Engle, Carroll, Lewis, and Juster, Barker seems to be far more fascinated with the macabre and grotesque.
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A journey beyond imagination
is about to unfold. . . .

It begins in the most boring place in the world: Chickentown, U.S.A. There lives Candy Quackenbush, her heart bursting for some clue as to what her future might hold.

When the answer comes, it's not one she expects.

Welcome to the Abarat.

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