A spellbinding treat...Galilee leaps through time and space to reveal an impressively majestic vision told in beautiful prose.
Sexier than King and more inventive than Rice...Full of intense emotions, enormous vitas, a...gusto for new beginnings, and a Californian flair for do-it-yourself theology.
Rocky Mountain News
A powerful work of fiction written by a master storyteller at the height of his skill.Galilee reads like a James Michener saga with Barker characters and love scenes.
Part soap opera, part fantasy, part family saga, part historical novel, part secret history of America... [Galilee] reveals Barker as one of the most imaginative writers working today.
Barker's most ambitious work to date...Rapturously full of emotions.
Washington Post Book World
Rich in plot twists, byzantine intrigues and hidden secrets, Imajica is a Chinese puzzle box constructed on a universal scale...Barker has an unparalleled talent forenvisioning other worlds.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A family saga isn't what we'd expect from Barker (Sacrament), the most ambitious dark fantasist of our time, but that's what he delivers in his most elegant, and most conventional, novel yet.
A Barker family saga is perforce unlike othersand so not only are two entwined families chronicled here but one, the Barbarossas, descends from voracious divinities, "two souls as old as heaven"; the other, the Gearys, are modeled roughly on the Kennedys. The story, an intricate mosaic of first-person and third, is narrated by the reclusive Maddox Barbarossa as a history he writes in the family manse hidden in the Virginia woods and designed long ago by Thomas Jefferson, one of his divine stepmother's countless lovers. Its canvas stretches from New York to Hawaii to the Middle East, from the "ancient day" when Maddox's half-brother, Galilee, was baptized through the American Civil Warduring which Galilee joins forces with the impoverished Southern founder of the Geary dynasty, whose cruelty and greed ensures the Gearys' immense wealth and power. Most of the story rests in the present, however, concentrating on the newest Geary, ne Rachel Pallenberg, who marries a callow Geary scion only to witness the outbreak of "war" between the Gearys and Barbarossas and to become the latest Geary woman to fall under the spell of the near-immortal, sexually mesmerizing Galilee.
The novel's scale is smaller than that of previous Barker effortsmissing are the titanic battles of form vs. chaos, good vs. evil, the riot of wonders and terrors. But it's less cluttered, too, despite abundant inspiration and invention and satisfying smatterings of Barker-brand sex, scatology and violence. Above all, there is a new richness of character, of its warpings and transfigurations by hatred and love, blood legacy and death.
The Barbarossas may be divinities, but their lives have been entangled with the all-too-human Gearys since the Civil War. It hasn't been a pretty collusion. Now, when it appears that both families are on the verge of splintering out of existence, Edward Barbarossa is enticed into writing the story of both clans, focusing on Galilee Barbarossa, the prodigal son. Unfortunately, while this book is closer to Barker's supernatural roots than was Sanctuary (LJ 7/96), it is also a meandering, self-indulgent novel that comes to no conclusions and never has a clear conflict. The reader is also denied a satisfying climax. Barker uses language eloquently, but his focus is earthy. Bodily functions of all sorts are detailed with reverence. However, fascinating and titillating descriptions don't make compelling reading over 600 pages. Buy where Barker's work is popular.
-- Jodi L. Israel, Norwood, MA
Fantasy & Science Fiction
...[P]owerful, and meaningful....Barker's ever-expansive aesthetic and stylistic pursuits...[produce] his most controlled and widely appealing novel.
Baker's work reads like a cross between Stephen King and South American novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He creates a world where our biggest fears appear to be our own dreams.
New York Times Book Review
Mr. Barker is much mroe than a genre writer, and his extravagantly unconventional inventions are ingenious refractions of our common quest to experience and understand the mysterious world around us and the mysteries within ourselves.
Though its ghoul and demon quotient is comparatively low, this lavishly campy creeper has a legitimate claim to the title of Weirdest Book Yet by the accomplished author of such genre classics as The Books of Blood (1988) and The Damnation Game (1987). John O'Hara, William Faulkner, and Barbara Cartland might have spent a lost weekend collaborating on this feverish tale of two feuding families whose destinies are catastrophically intertwined. Its narratorwho will attempt a book about his blighted polyglot clan, is Edmund Barbarossa, the crippled stepson of a mysteriously ageless beautiful black woman, Cesaria (who has the power to "raise stones" and "send her image wherever she wants to"), for whom a smitten Thomas Jefferson built a magnificent mansion on the North Carolina coast. Edmund's quest for information (which often takes the forms of dreams and fantasies) uncovers a wildly melodramatic history begun in presumably biblical times in the vicinity of the Middle Eastern city of Samarkand; an old wrong that dates from the Civil War and must of course be avenged; and a most unwise misalliance between the Barbarossas ("something more than human stock") and the Gearys, an agreeably malicious cross between the Kennedys of Massachusetts and the Compsons of Yoknapatawpha County. The Gearys are plagued by every sexual and conjugal problem known to man and woman, but what really ticks them off is the irresistible (to their women) animal magnetism of Cesaria's Heathcliff-like son Galilee, a brooding sex machine whose services to womankind are subsumed inbelieve this or notwhat appears to be a Christ parallel. Barker's tongue pokes visibly out of his cheek nowand then, in a black comedy of miscegenation and its discontents that has to be a sendup of both the Harlequin romance and the American Southern Gothic novel. Overheated and intermittently risible, but the thing is entertaining: the kind of book for which hammocks were inventednot to mention double boilermakers.
Read an Excerpt
At the insistence of my stepmother Cesaria Barbarossa the house in which I presently sit was built so that it faces southeast. The architect--who was no lesser man than the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson--protested her desire repeatedly and eloquently. I have the letters in which he did so here on my desk. But she would not be moved on the subject. The house was to look back towards her homeland, towards Africa, and he, as her employee, was to do as he was instructed.
It's very plain, however, reading between the lines of her missives (I have those too; or at least copies of them) that he is far more than an architect for hire; and she to him more than a headstrong woman with a perverse desire to build a house in a swamp, in North Carolina, facing southeast. They write to one another like people who know a secret.
I know a few myself; and luckily for the thoroughness of what follows I have no intention of keeping them.
The time has come to tell everything I know. Failing that, everything I can detect or surmise. Failing that, everything I can invent. If I do my job properly it won't even matter to you which is which. What will appear on these pages will be, I hope, a seamless history, describing deeds and destinies that will range across the world. Some of them will be, to say the least, strange events, enacted by troubled and unpalatable souls. But as a general rule, you should assume that the more unlikely the action I lay upon this stage for you, the more likely it is that I have evidence of its having happened. The things I will invent will be, I suspect, mundane by comparison with the truth. And as I said, it's myintention that you should not know the difference. I plan to interweave the elements of my story so cunningly that you'll cease to even care whether an event happened out there in the same world where you walk, or in here, in the head of a crippled man who will never again move from his stepmother's house.
This house, this glorious house!
When Jefferson labored on its designs he was still some distance from Pennsylvania Avenue, but he was by no means an unknown. The year was 1790. He had already penned the Declaration of Independence, and served in France as the US Minister to the French government. Great words had flowed from his pen. Yet here he is taking time from his duties in Washington, and from work in his own house, to write long letters to my father's wife, in which the business of constructing this house and the nuances of his heart are exquisitely interlaced.
If that is not extraordinary enough, consider this: Cesaria is a black woman; Jefferson, for all his democratic protestations, was the owner of some two hundred slaves. So how much authority must she have had over him, to be able to persuade him to labor for her as he did? It's a testament to her powers of enchantment--powers which in this case she exercised, as she was fond of saying, "without the juju." In other words: in her dealings with Jefferson she was simply, sweetly, even innocently, human. Whatever capacities she possesses to supernaturally beguile a human soul--and she possesses many--she liked his clear-sightedness too well to blind him that way. If he was devoted to her, it was because she was worthy of his devotion.
They called the house he built for her L'Enfant. Actually, I believe the full name was L'Enfant de les Carolinas. I can only speculate as to why they so named it.
That the name of the house is in French is no big surprise: they met in the gilded salons of Paris. But the name itself? I have two theories. The first, and the most obvious, is that the house was in a sense the product of their romance, their child if you will, and they named it accordingly. The second, that it was the infant of an architectural parent, the progenitor being Jefferson's own house at Monticello, into which he poured his genius for most of his life. It's bigger than Monticello by a rough measure of three (Monticello is eleven thousand square feet; I estimate L'Enfant to be a little over thirty-four thousand) and has a number of smaller service buildings in its vicinity, whereas Jefferson's house is a single structure, incorporating the slave and servant quarters, the kitchen and toilet facilities, under one roof. But in other regards the houses are very similar. They're both Jeffersonian reworkings of Palladian models; both have double porticoes, both have octagonal domes, both have capacious high-ceilinged rooms and plenty of windows, both are practical rather than glamorous houses; both, I'd say, are structures that bespeak great confidence and great love.
Of course their settings are radically different. Monticello, as its name suggests, is set on a mountain. L'Enfant sits on a plot of low-lying ground forty-seven acres in size, the southeastern end of which is unredeemable swamp, and the northern perimeter wooded, primarily with pine. The house itself is raised up on a modest ridge, which protects it a little from the creeping damps and rots of this region, but not enough to stop the cellar from flooding during heavy rain, and the rooms getting damnably cold in winter and humid as hell in summer. Not that I'm complaining. L'Enfant is an extraordinary house. Sometimes I think it has a soul all of its own. Certainly it seems to know the moods of its occupants, and accommodates them. There have been times, sitting in my study, when a black thought has crept into my psyche for some reason, and I swear I can feel the room darken in sympathy with me. Galilee. Copyright © by Clive Barker. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.