As if the news that Clive Barker is returning to the film that brought his name to the masses is not enough, it was recently and considerably more quietly announced his highly anticipated novel The Scarlet Gospels is actually finished. Not finished as in “main story done, now to add detail,” or as in “almost complete, but the structure needs tightened,” but actually signed-off, final-draft-edited, irrevocably-delivered-to-publishers complete.
Originally envisioned as a 30,000 word sequel to The Hellbound Heart (the novella upon which Hellraiser was based) as far back as 1993, the finished product was continually delayed due to Barker’s other commitments, as well as the sheer size the story was swelling into. His most “metaphysically ambitious” novel since the multiple Dominions of Imajica, it is about “a war of primal forces ... in which Heaven offers good men scant protection, and Hell offers its agents even less.”
Described by the man himself as “a horror novel with the graphic violence and perverse eroticism of the most intense tales from The Books Of Blood,” The Scarlet Gospels will see a faceoff between fan favourites Pinhead and Harry D’Amour. When a friend of Harry is taken to Hell by Pinhead, he and a small group must traverse its lowest levels to track him down. Along the way the nature of Hell itself will be uncovered, with one of many interweaving stories taking us back to the Nativity in Bethlehem and “what really happened on that night.” This may in some way link to Pinhead’s place as a priest of Hell, as well as expand upon a previous comment about his skull of nails being a warped reflection of Jesus’ crown of thorns.
The most famous character from the Hellraiser franchise, Pinhead’s true Cenobite name will be revealed in the book. Pinhead was only ever a fan-popularised nickname; in Hellraiser’s credits he is referred to as Lead Cenobite, and in the novella is unnamed and actually mentioned as appearing to be female. Harry D’Amour is a paranormal investigator who originated in short story The Last Illusion (later adapted by Barker himself as Lord Of Illusions and played by Scott Bakula of Quantum Leap and Enterprise fame) and is a part of the as-yet-unfinished Art trilogy, appearing at the end of The Great And Secret Show and is a major character in Everville.
The Scarlet Gospels takes place in a continuity independent of the rest of the franchise; the events of the comics and the increasingly disappointing films will be completely disregarded in favour of an expansion of the original mythology that was only hinted at. It will be published by St Martin’s Press and has been scheduled for a winter 2015 publication date.
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