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Book: Mister B. Gone

7 years agoby: Jared Pacheco
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"Burn this book."

That's the plea you're given when you first open Clive Barker's MISTER B. GONE. It comes from Jakabok Botch, a demon from the Ninth Circle of Hell. It's Jakabok, or Mister B. as he likes to be called, who possesses Clive Barker's latest delve into terror. You're introduced to Mister B. right away as he begs and pleads with you to burn this book. The demon speaks straight to you, as if you're face to face with an inhabitant of the underworld.

As you read, which in turn refuses Jakabok's pleas, you're treated to the life story of Mister B. He openly describes to you his entire life in hopes that it'll bring you to burn this book. From being savagely burned as a child, to being fished out of Hell and up into the World Above, to his first love and the centuries that follow; Mister B. shares everything with you. He describes disturbing acts as if he were telling a bedtime story.

"Another priest, who we had watched unleash his perverted appetite upon tiny children, we cut into one hundred and three pieces, the labor of which fell to Quitoon, who was able to keep the man alive [and pleading to die] until he severed the seventy-eighth part from he seventy-ninth."

But the vile tale he tells is only a secondary form of entertainment. The heart of this book lies in the relationship between Jakabok and you, the reader. As I read I found myself getting lost at times, feeling like Jakabok was an actual person talking to me. By the end it really felt like I knew this demon well and that he knew me. Clive Barker does a brilliant job of making this relationship you share with his character personal. Between points in the demon's story he'll talk directly to you. He continues his pleas for you to burn this book and offers his disappointment when you don't. You even sense frustration from the demon as he resorts to threats, promising to follow behind you as you flip each page and slit your throat once you reach the end.

The story itself is definitely something twisted and original. The descriptive life tale of a demon. The way Jakabok describes his child-hood and entry into the World Above doesn't fit our familiar demon characterization at all. He's actually kind of a loser. Actually he seems to be a loser throughout almost his whole story. He finally comes to an empowering realization in the final act thanks to some Angels and it gets you pumped! Jakabok starts by telling you about his horrible parents and his first couple days in the World Above, including a severe burn, a first love, an Archbishop burning, and mobs of humans chasing him down. This all leads to Jakabok meeting the other major character of the story, the demon Quitoon. The two live their lives terrorizing Humankind and searching for new inventions. Jakabok starts back up over a century after his entry into the World Above and describes the relationship between himself and Quitoon and their adventures. This leads to a big Secret that ultimately leads to Mister B. being trapped inside this very book.

MISTER B. GONE's selling point is the relationship you develop with this demon. As I mentioned it's like he's talking straight to you and feels like it most of the times. He challenges you by questioning your thoughts and feelings, that of which most people keep locked up and feelings people don't think about. He tries to bribe you with wondrous gifts. At one point he tempts you by declaring how he possesses the book and how he just made it shake... and you might just take a second to wonder if the book actually did shake..... Of course it didn't. Or did it? I'll leave that for you to decide.

"I was soaking in a bath of infants' blood, which had taken no little time to fill, the bath being large and the infants hard to acquire [and keep alive so the bath was hot] in the numbers required. It had taken me half a day to find thirty-one infants, and another hour or more to slit their squealing throats and drain their contents into the bath."

Needless to say that relationship was my favourite aspect of the book by far. Second would be how Jakabok describes his story to you. He tells it with suck glee and acts as if everything is normal, knowing what he's done in his life is wrong but saying it so matter-of-factly that you can't help but see his reasoning. Aside from the threats to slit my throat, Jakabok actually comes across as the protagonist... and you feel that way as you read. Nevermind how this demon has slaughtered countless numbers of living beings in his lifetime, you can't help but sympathize with him throughout most of his story. Or was that just me?

The story he tells has some big plot points throughout, keeping things tied together and flowing. The excerpts I've pasted in this review (found in the italic red) are just a taste of the constant descriptions Jakabok gives you. Now regardless of that, I couldn't really get excited about Jakabok's tale. Maybe it was because I was into the personalized parts of the books where he's talking to you, or maybe the story he tells just wasn't that interesting. Considering this is Clive Barker we're talking about I'm going to assume it was me being more into the personalized stuff. The story really picks up once he skips ahead a hundred years and tells about how he and Quitoon set their sights on the town of Mainz to find out what this huge invention and The Secret were all about.

"Those days when sudden epiphanies swept over you, and you had visions of the rightness of all things and of your place amongst them; they're history. You're in a darker place now. A place you chose, with me for company. Me, an insignificant demon with a seeping scar for a face and body that even I find nauseating to look at, who has killed your kind countless times, and would kill again, happily, if the opportunity were before me. Think about that."

Unfortunately the ending is the weakest part of the book. Aside from Jakabok's empowerment it was just kind of a let down. In the town of Mainz we're introduced to an epic battle between Good and Evil and various secrets throughout. Angels, Demons, Archbishops, Pie-men... it all comes together in the final act. The century-old relationship between Quitoon and Jakabok hits some major speed bumps and we're told about some epic battles. It just felt like The Secret got built up so much that it was kind of a let down when it's revealed. The cool thing is that The Secret involves something we all know and use today in a big way... but is just to out there and unappealing to really care about.

So there's the just of it. MISTER B. GONE is a highly offensive, very disturbing, gory tale with a lot of heart behind it. Whether it be the honest tellings of this demon, the relationships he develops in his life (especially with Quitoon), or the relationship between the demon and yourself; a lot of points in this book really dive into feelings and honesty. I've never seen or heard anything like MISTER B. GONE, making it completely original and intriguing. So what do you say? Think you're ready to pick up a book possessed by a demon from the Ninth Circle of Hell? Will you give in to the pleas of Jakabok Botch and burn this book?

"Then I will be standing close enough to reach around and slit your defiant throat."

Rating: 8 out of 10




Source: AITH

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7:18AM on 11/20/2008
Sounds like classic Barker: eerie, mysterious, WRONGLY hilarious, absolutely and squirmingly [link] and flat-out beautiful and amazing with his narrative abilities. I've never known another author who so frequently, consistently, and capably does all this in any given work.
Sounds like classic Barker: eerie, mysterious, WRONGLY hilarious, absolutely and squirmingly [link] and flat-out beautiful and amazing with his narrative abilities. I've never known another author who so frequently, consistently, and capably does all this in any given work.
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