by Clive Barker
Reviewed by Steve, added on Jan 1 2005
Abarat is the story of Candy Quackenbush, a girl from the most normal place on Earth. It's a place where nothing strange ever happens. Everyone wakes up, goes to work, comes home, and goes to bed, only to repeat the process again and again day in and day out. It's a place called Chickentown, Michigan, a small city who's entire economy relies on, you guessed it, chickens. Desiring so much more in life than she can find in her hometown, Candy one day finds herself compelled to flee it. Running out of her school and following a strange cloud, she stumbles upon an old abandoned lighthouse, looking towards an ocean that isn't there. There she meets John Mischief, a man with seven brothers, all of which live as disembodied heads atop great antlers on John's head. Frightened at first, she eventually befriends John and helps him as he's being hunted by a great evil. They call forth the great ocean the lighthouse was facing and jump in, swimming for John's home. Candy has just entered the world of Abarat.
This is an amazing book, written and illustrated by famed horror movie writer/director Clive Barker. A far cry from most of his movies, Abarat stays away from gore and bloodshed and instead focuses on the story. To get inspiration for the story, Mr. Barker himself painted a huge portrait of the land of Abarat and all of its inhabitants. The land of Abarat consists of a great sea with 25 islands in it. Each island represents an hour of the day with the 25th being the place where all time comes together. An "ultimate evil" lives on the island representing midnight and begins to hunt Candy after learning that someone from the Hereafter (the Abaratian word for our world) has come to his world.
Abarat is without a doubt an epic. The whole story will span four books. Clive has given us just a small taste of the world he has imagined. Double spaced and loaded with pictures painted by Mr. Barker, the story could actually be fit into a book half its size. It's a story that isn't too harsh for younger children but is also engaging enough to keep adults from putting it down for any extended period of time.
Abarat was a great read, however it really left me wanting something more.namely the next three books in the series. This is how all fantasy stories should be. I give it an 8 out of 10. Go pick up a copy of this now while you can, the second book is due out in October.
Note: The book's score may increase a bit once I stop crying about Clive making me wait so long to finish the story.