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Coldheart Canyon: A Hollywood Ghost Story

Coldheart Canyon: A Hollywood Ghost Story

4.0 46
by Clive Barker

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Film's most popular action hero needs a place to heal after his surgery has gone terribly wrong. His fiercely loyal agent finds him just such a place in a luxurious forgotten mansion high in the Hollywood Hills. But the original owner of the mansion was a beautiful woman devoted to pleasure at any cost, and the terrible legacy of her deeds has not yet died. There


Film's most popular action hero needs a place to heal after his surgery has gone terribly wrong. His fiercely loyal agent finds him just such a place in a luxurious forgotten mansion high in the Hollywood Hills. But the original owner of the mansion was a beautiful woman devoted to pleasure at any cost, and the terrible legacy of her deeds has not yet died. There are ghosts and monsters haunting Coldheart Canyon, where nothing is forbidden . . .

Clive Barker's Coldheart Canyon showcases the boldly innovative New York Times bestselling master at the very top of his formidable and frightening skills. Clive Barker is the internationally bestselling author of more than twenty books for adults and children. He is also a widely acclaimed artist, film producer, screenwriter, and director. He lives in Beverly Hills, California.

Editorial Reviews

Martin Morse Wooster
Coldheart Canyon is a mildly entertaining novel.
Washington Post Book World
Publishers Weekly
Those with the determination to commit to nearly an entire day of listening will be glad they put forth the effort, because this is one impressive production. Barker's 19th book is an epic saga of Hollywood's underbelly, a dazzling commentary on the world of glitz and glamour. With nods to vintage stars and today's hotties, listeners won't have trouble linking the book's characters to their real-life counterparts (e.g., who on earth could Keifer Smutherland be?). The story's darling is one Todd Pickett, an actor who's approaching a certain age and, seeking escape from the limelight, heads to an estate in the remote Coldheart Canyon neighborhood of Hollywood, where he becomes entangled in a fantastical web of ghosts of early movie stars. This mammoth tale is really best for celluloid fanatics and Barker diehards; so-so fans may want to space out the 22 hours of audio over some time. Audiobook veteran Muller rises to the occasion, and his stalwart performance should please Barker. His accents run the gamut, from an old Romanian priest to a pushy film agent. Not for the straitlaced listener, this audiobook hits hard and will stay with listeners for a while. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Forecasts, July 23, 2001). (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
It is 1916 in the Hollywood of Theda Bara and Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and silent film star Katya Lupi receives a magnificent gift: an entire room constructed of hand-painted tiles removed from a Romanian monastery and installed, piece by piece, on her Hollywood estate. Not only is the room an aesthetic masterpiece but it is also possessed by the Devil. Katya, a woman of strong desires and appetites, quickly learns to use its powers to her advantage, ensnaring the souls of other cinema legends who share her thirst for beauty, fame, and fortune. From this dangerous precipice, Barker, whose numerous best-selling novels (Galilee, etc.) and experience as a film producer have won him a loyal following, entices his readers to leap into a fantastical world populated by ghostly beasts that roam the hills of a modern-day Tinseltown. His masterly descriptions of this world and the pathological behavior that occurs within it provide an eerie realism, compelling the reader to venture further. Essential for Barker fans, though others may be disappointed in the unevenness that results from the emphasis on plot at the expense of character development. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/01.]Nancy McNicol, Hagaman Memorial Lib., East Haven, CT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
If Billy Wilder had made Sunset Boulevard as a German Expressionist silent film, it might have been a lot like this engagingly nutty melodrama from the author-director of such stylish horrorfests as the Hellraiser movies and the genre-classic Books of Blood. The story opens in the 1920s, when Willem Zeffer, manager to European-born silent film vamp Katya Lupescu, impulsively purchases and transports to America a roomful of painted tiles that graphically depict bizarre sexual encounters set in the context of an unending "hunt." The lurid "masterwork" thereafter becomes a magnet that draws numerous Hollywood notables to Katya's mansion in the eponymous Canyon (named for her own heartless sadism). All this unfolds while Barker follows the misfortunes (some 60 years later) of contemporary action-film hunk Todd Pickett, who recuperates at the mansion from botched cosmetic surgery, and the president of an "appreciation society" devoted to Todd, unlovely, unhappily married Tammy Lauper, who follows her hero to this impossibly jaded hell on earth. All the familiar Barker mannerisms appear in profusion: witty satirical jabs (this time at Hollywood's culture of glamorous excess) blunted by lax, sloppy prose and pretentious diction ("disorientate," "bizarrity," etc.); credible and appealing characters (especially Todd, who's made sympathetic in a long early sequence describing the death of his beloved dog); and supernatural fireworks featuring strange combinations of human, animal, and unknown life forms (you can almost feel Barker's hand grasping at the mantle worn for centuries by Hieronymus Bosch). Before all hell finally, predictably breaks loose, most readers will have tuned out (the novel isenormously too long). Still, Barker possesses one of contemporary fiction's wildest and finest imaginations, and the "backstory" of the hunt pictured on those tiles-of a nobleman who inadvertently offends Lucifer and must thereafter spend eternity making reparation-has the power and allure of ancient legend. If you can tolerate Barker at his most fantastical and effusive, you won't want to miss Coldheart Canyon. Other readers might want to go back to Jacqueline Susann.
“Barker’s vision is impressively bizarre—think Anne Rice meets Jacqueline Susann.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer
“When you’re in the mood for forgettable escapism, nobody does it better.”
The Baltimore Sun
Atlanta Journal & Constitution
“A writer of stunning imagination.”
Washington Post
“[Clive Barker] is a mapmaker of the mind, charting the farthest reaches of the imagination.... ”
USA Today
“Wickedly enjoyable... endlessly entertaining...a powerhouse of a novel... irresistible.”
Time Out (London)
“...in the language of fear, he has no equals.”
Janet Maslin
“Unfolds with genuine momentum, in the vigorous style of a fully engaged storyteller.”
Maxine Hong Kingston
“Barker has an unparalleled talent for envisioning other worlds.”
Time Out
"...in the language of fear, he has no equals."
People Magazine
"Barker’s vision is impressively bizarre—think Anne Rice meets Jacqueline Susann."

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Chapter One

"Your wife did not want to look around the Fortress any further, Mister Zeffer?" Father Sandru said, seeing that on the second day the middle-aged man with the handsome, sad face had come alone.

"The lady is not my wife," Zeffer explained.

"Ah..." the monk replied, the tone of commiseration in his voice indicating that he was far from indifferent to Katya's charms. "A pity for you, yes?"

"Yes," Zeffer admitted, with some discomfort.

"She's a very beautiful woman."

The monk studied Zeffer's face as he spoke, but having said what he'd said, Zeffer was unwilling to play the confessee any further.

"I'm her manager," he explained. "That's all there is between us."

Father Sandru, however, was not willing to let the issue go just yet. "After the two of you departed yesterday," he said, his English colored by his native Romanian, "one of the brothers remarked that she was the most lovely woman he had ever seen..." he hesitated before committing to the rest of the sentence "...in the flesh."

"Her name's Katya, by the way," Zeffer said.

"Yes, yes, I know," said the Father, his fingers combing the knotted gray-white of his beard as he stood assessing Zeffer.

The two men were a study in contrasts. Sandru ruddy-faced and rotund in his dusty brown habit, Zeffer slimly elegant in his pale linen suit.

"She is a movie star, yes?"

"You saw one of her films?"

Sandru grimaced, displaying a poorly-kept array of teeth. "No,no," he said. "I do not see these things. At least not often. But there is a little cinema in Ravbac, and some of the younger brothers go down there quite regularly. They are great fans of Chaplin, of course. And there's a...vamp...is that the word?"

"Yes," Zeffer replied, somewhat amused by this conversation. "Vamp's the word."

"Called Theda Bara."

"Oh, yes. We know Theda."

In that year -- which was 1920 -- everybody knew Theda Bara. She had one of the most famous faces in the world. As, of course, did Katya. Both were famous; their fame tinged with a delicious hint of decadence.

"I must go with one of the brothers when they next go to see her," Father Sandru said.

"I wonder if you entirely understand what kind of woman Theda Bara portrays?" Zeffer replied.

Sandru raised a thicketed eyebrow. "I am not born yesterday, Mister Zeffer. The Bible has its share of these women, these vamps. They're whores, yes; women of Babylon? Men are drawn to them only to be destroyed by them?"

Zeffer laughed at the directness of Sandru's description. I suppose that's about right," he said.

"And in real life?" Sandru said.

"In real life Theda Bara's name is Theodesia Goodman. She was born in Ohio."

"But is she a destroyer of men?"

"In real life? No, I doubt it. I'm sure she harms a few egos now and again, but that's about the worst of it."

Father Sandru looked mildly disappointed. "I shall tell the brothers what you told me," he said. "They'll be very interested. Well then...shall I take you inside?"

Willem Matthias Zeffer was a cultured man. He had lived in Paris, Rome, London and briefly in Cairo in his forty-three years; and had promised himself that he would leave Los Angeles -- where there was neither art nor the ambition to make art -- as soon as the public tired of lionizing Katya, and she tired of rejecting his offer of marriage. They would wed, and come back to Europe; find a house with some real history on its bones, instead of the fake Spanish mansion her fortune had allowed her to have built in one of the Hollywood canyons.

Until then, he would have to find aesthetic comfort in the objets d'art he purchased on their trips abroad: the furniture, the tapestries, the statuary. They would suffice, until they could find a château in the Loire, or perhaps a Georgian house in London; somewhere the cheap theatrics of Hollywood wouldn't curdle his blood.

"You like Romania?" the Father asked as he unlocked the great oak door that lay at the bottom of the stairs.

"Yes, of course," Zeffer replied.

"Please do not feel you have to sin on my account," Sandru said, with a sideways glance.


"Lying is a sin, Mister Zeffer. Perhaps it's just a little one, but it's a sin nevertheless."

Oh Lord, Zeffer thought; how far I've slipped from the simple proprieties! Back in Los Angeles he sinned as a matter of course; every day, every hour. The life he and Katya lived was built on a thousand stupid little lies.

But he wasn't in Hollywood now. So why lie? "You're right. I don't like this country very much at all. I'm here because Katya wanted to come. Her Mother and father -- I'm sorry, her stepfather -- live in the village."

"Yes. This I know. The mother is not a good woman."

"You're her priest?"

"No. We brothers do not minister to the people. The Order of Saint Teodor exists only to keep its eyes on the Fortress." He pushed the door open. A dank smell exuded from the darkness ahead of them.

"Excuse me for asking," Zeffer said. "But it was my understanding from yesterday that apart from you and your brothers, there's nobody here."

"Yes, this is true. Nobody here, except the brothers."

"So what are you keeping your eyes on?"

Sandru smiled thinly. "I will show you," he said. "As much as you wish to see."

He switched on a light, which illuminated ten yards of corridor. A large tapestry hung along the wall, the image upon it so gray with age and dust as to be virtually beyond interpretation.

The Father proceeded down the corridor, turning on another light as he did...

Coldheart Canyon. Copyright © by Clive Barker. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Maxine Hong Kingston
“Barker has an unparalleled talent for envisioning other worlds.”

Meet the Author

Clive Barker is the bestselling author of twenty-two books, including the New York Times bestsellers Abarat; Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War; and The Thief of Always. He is also an acclaimed painter, film producer, and director. For twelve years Mr. Barker has been working on a vast array of paintings to illuminate the text of The Books of Abarat, more than one hundred and twenty-five of which can be found within this volume.

Mr. Barker lives in California. He shares his house with seven dogs, three cockatiels, several undomesticated geckoes, an African gray parrot called Smokey, and a yellow-headed Amazon parrot called Malingo.

Brief Biography

Los Angeles
Date of Birth:
October 5, 1952
Place of Birth:
Liverpool, England
Liverpool University

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Coldheart Canyon 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Sam101 More than 1 year ago
I resently bought this book, because a huge fan of Barker's work, and wanted to read more of his novels. It grabs you from the first page until the end, a must read for any body. You really feel the pain of the charactors in these book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Clive barker has written tons of fantasy/horror and beyond that even. With Coldheart Canyon, he not only allows the reader to laugh at all the glitz and glam of Hollywood, but also weaves a magnificent carpet of stories within stories and character's such as 'Katya' which no reader will soon be able to forget. All of this accomplished without having to churn out a book over 800 pages, like most epic novels; and Barker fanatics will soon come to regard this as an epic in every sense. Hardcore fans will finish this one in no more than two nights. And new fans will be running back to the bookstore to uncover all of his other dominions in print from the past.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My introduction to Mr. Barker was in 1985??? The first work of his I read was the Great and Secret Show, I couldn't read an entire news paper without losing interest, for that matter I consumed more reading with this amamzing novel than I read the last 3 years in high school. I have read and re-read that book many times, however when I read Cold Heart Canyon, I was completely mesmerized. From the first through the last unfortunate page, I knew I had read something unique, and a book I would always be a fan. I completely enjoyed this story equally as much as Great And Secret Show but in very different ways. The first book was terrifying, and gave me goose bumps when I was reading it. With Coldheart Canyon, it was multiple emotions while I read this one. Never have I read something that drew me in so completely that I could feel the emotions of the characters as the book progressed. Mr. Barker's writing may not be for everyone, but it is exactly what sets him apart from other writers. What he does, how he does it, speaks to those who want to devour his work, in absolute and with complete want. I absolutely love his work, appreciate his effort to seal his readers off from the "real world" while he takes us on a magical experience. No one else I've read has ever captivated me to the exclusion of everything around me like he has. I hope he keeps writing as long as it gives him the satisfaction I get reading his works. Thank you, for an amazing journey.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read most of Clive's books, so of course I had to pick up this one. I was not disappointed! Definitely not for the faint of heart, this book is Clive through and through. If you're a fan, this book is for you. If not, pick it up anyway...it might make you one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read several books by Clive Barker, yet never before have I felt so involved - I could actually see the canyon, Katya, Todd, everything as if I were there!!! Please, Clive - GIVE US MORE!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Clive Barker never ceases to amaze me. This book is wonderful!! Full of lot's of Mr. Barkers unusual taste for the grotesque along with a very imaginable storyline. I recommend this to anyone who is a fan like myself.
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A beautifully written ghost story with just enough suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat and enough erotica to make you blush. As delightful as it is creepy.
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