3.9 14
by Clive Barker

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Living and dying, we feed the fire.

Will Rabjohns, perhaps the most famous wildlife photographer in the world, has made his reputation chronicling the fates of endangered species. But after a terrible accident, Will is left in a coma. And in its depths, he revisits the wildernesses of his youth and relives his life with a mysterious

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Living and dying, we feed the fire.

Will Rabjohns, perhaps the most famous wildlife photographer in the world, has made his reputation chronicling the fates of endangered species. But after a terrible accident, Will is left in a coma. And in its depths, he revisits the wildernesses of his youth and relives his life with a mysterious couple who have influenced his life as an artist and a man.

When Will awakens, he sets out on a journey of self-discovery—one where he will penetrate the ultimate mystery and finally unlock the secret of his destiny.

Soaring, provocative and passionate, Sacrament is a masterwork from the pen of one of today's moist acclaimed authors.

Editorial Reviews

Spellbinding impressively majestic vision told in beautiful prose.
Times London
A gripping book that weaves a compulsive spell almost to thefinal page. Vintage Barker.
Atlanta Journal
L.A. Life
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 giant of horror strides toward mainstream fiction in this awesome but skewed novel. Not that Barker (Everville, etc.) has forsaken the fantastic and outr; but here, the premier metaphysician of dark fantasy mutes his usually riotous imagery, placing it in the service of an elegy for the natural world. He also creates his first proudly gay hero, Will Rabjohns, celebrated for his photographs of endangered species. Will's profession, as well as his sojourns in San Francisco's gay community, reflect the themes of the novelcreation and, above all, extinction, both of animals and of humans, especially of gay men through AIDS. The story opens with Will being mauled by a polar bear and plunging into a coma from which he recalls his boyhood in England. In flashback, Will meets Steep, a gaunt, inhuman creature clad in human form, and Steep's lethal, lamia-like partner, Rosa. Steep's passion is to snuff species into extinction; his mate's, to give birth to her and Steep's progeny. Awakening from his coma, Will travels to S.F., then to England for an apocalyptic climax at a hovel inhabited by lost species and souls. Barker's prose is as fertile as always, and his characters are rubbed raw with life and death; but the story line lacks the narrative urgency and grand arcs of his other works. The symbolism can be strained at times. Likewise, despite the thematic paste, the gay and fantasy elements don't bond well, though both provoke moments of breathtaking drama. Even in this fractured tale, Barker presents an astonishing array of ideas, visions and epiphanies; but they're seen as if through a glass beveled and crazed. $175,000 ad/promo; simultaneous HarperAudio; dramatic rights: Sterling Lord Literistic; author tour. (July)
Library Journal
Tired of touring the Barker web sitecalled the Web of Lost Souls? Then turn to Barker's newest novel for a good, old-fashioned scare. In a coma after encountering a polar bear, wildlife photographer Will Swift recalls an evil force of nature that pursued him as a child and wakes to realize that the force is after him again.
Ray Olson
Burned-out wildlife photographer Will Rabjohns, famous for grim pictures of just-dead animals, is mauled by a polar bear near Hudson Bay and falls into a coma. While he is unconscious, strange incidents from his childhood in Yorkshire, England, vividly recur to him. He had encountered an oddly compelling man and woman in a ruin outside his village, a couple soon guilty of gruesome murders and about whom Will is suspected of knowing more than he told; during his meetings with the pair, Will bonded with the man and, far weirder, with a talking fox he saw in a vision. When he revives, Will returns to his adult home in San Francisco's gay Castro district. He plans to assemble a final book of photos and then . . . he doesn't know what. But the fox reappears and finally melds with him, freaking out an old love with whom Will's trying to reconnect. Then a brutal attack on his father calls him back to the scenes of his boyhood and, in a climax beautifully set on a Hebridean island, to a showdown with the mysterious couple. Barker restrains the gore-splattering of much of his work in fiction and film to produce an adult cousin to his children's fantasy, "The Thief of Always" (1992). Its message may be that when a man sets out to save his soul, he may indeed save the world as well. It deserves to be as big a hit as anything Barker's done; may the fact that its hero is gay not turn off too many of the fans.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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He Stands Before An Unopened Door

To every hour, its mystery. At dawn, the riddles of life and light. At noon, the conundrums of solidity. At three, in the hum and heat of the day, a phantom moon, already high. At dusk, memory. And at midnight? Oh, then the enigma of time itself; of a day that will never come again passing into history while we sleep.

It had been Saturday when Will Rabjohns arrived at the weather-bullied wooden shack on the outskirts of Balthazar. Now it was Sunday morning, two-seventeen by the scored face of Will's watch. He had emptied his brandy flask an hour before, raising it to toast the Borealis, which shimmered and billowed far beyond Hudson Bay, upon the shores of which Balthazar stood. He had knocked on the door of the shack countless times, calling out for Guthrie to give him just a few minutes of his time. On two or three occasions it seemed the man was going to do so; Will heard him grumbling something incoherent on the other side of the door, and once the handle had been turned. But Guthrie had not appeared.

Will was neither deterred nor particularly surprised. The old man had been universally described as crazy: This by men and women who had chosen as their place of residence one of the bleaker corners of the planet. If anyone knew crazy, Will thought, they did. What besides a certain lunacy inspired people to build a community--even one as small as Balthazar (population: thirty-one)--on a treeless, wind-battered stretch of tidal flats that was buried half the year beneath ice and snow, and was for two of the remaining months besieged by the polar bears who came through the region in late autumn waiting for the bay tofreeze? That these people would characterize Guthrie as insane was a testament to how crazy he really was.

But Will knew how to wait. He'd spent much of his professional life waiting, sitting in hides and dugouts and wadis and trees, his cameras loaded, his ears pricked, watching for the object of his pursuit to appear. How many of those animals had been, like Guthrie, crazed and despairing? Most, of course. Creatures who'd attempted to outrun the creeping tide of humankind, and failed; whose lives and habitats were in extremis. His patience was not always rewarded. Sometimes, having sweat or shivered for hours and days he would have to give up and move on, the species he was seeking, for all its hopelessness, preserving its despair from his lens.

But Guthrie was a human animal. Though he had holed himself up behind his walls of weather-beaten boards, and had made it his business to see his neighbors (if such they could be called, the nearest house was half a mile away) as seldom as possible, he was surely curious about the man on his doorstep, who had been waiting for five hours in the bitter cold. This was Will's hope, at least; that the longer he could stay awake and upright the likelier it became that the lunatic would surrender to curiosity and open the door.

He glanced at his watch again. It was almost three. Though he had told his assistant, Adrianna, not to stay up for him, he knew her too well to think she would not by now be a little concerned. There were bears out there in the dark: eight hundred, nine hundred pounds some of them, with indiscriminate appetites and unpredictable behavior patterns. In a fortnight, they'd be out on the ice floes hunting seal and whale. But right now they were in scavenging mode, come to befoul themselves in the stinking garbage heaps of Churchill and Balthazar, and--as had occasionally happened--to take a human life. There was every likelihood that they were wandering within sniffing distance of him right now, beyond the throw of Guthrie's jaundiced porch light, studying Will, perhaps, as he waited on the doorstep. The notion didn't alarm him. Quite the reverse, in fact. It faintly excited him that some visitor from the wilderness might at this very moment be assessing his palatability. For most of his adult life he'd made photographs of the untamed world, reporting to the human tribe the tragedies that occurred in contested territories. They were seldom human tragedies. It was the populace of the other world that withered and perished daily. And as he witnessed the steady erosion of the wilderness, the hunger in him grew to leap the fences and be part of it, before it was gone.

He tugged off one of his fur-lined gloves and plucked his cigarettes out of his anorak pocket. There was only one left. He put it to his numbed lips and lit up, the emptiness of the pack a greater goad than either the temperature or the bears.

"Hey, Guthrie," he said, rapping on the blizzard-beaten door, "how about letting me in, huh? I only want a couple of minutes with you. Give me a break."

He waited, drawing deep on the cigarette and glancing back out into the darkness. There was a group of rocks twenty or thirty yards beyond his Jeep; an ideal place, he knew, for bears to be lurking. Did something move among them? He suspected so. Canny bastards, he thought. They were biding their time, waiting for him to head back to the vehicle.

"Fuck this!" he growled to himself. He'd waited long enough. He was going to give up on Guthrie, at least for tonight. He was going to head back to the warmth of the rented house on Balthazar's Main (and only) Street, brew himself some coffee, cook himself an early breakfast, then catch a few hours' sleep. Resisting the temptation to knock on the door one final time, he left the doorstep, digging for the keys as he strode back over the squeaking snow to the Jeep.

At the very back of his mind, he'd wondered if Guthrie was the kind of perverse old bastard who'd wait for his visitor to give up before opening the door. He was. Will had no sooner vacated the comfort of the porch light when he heard the door grinding across the frosted steps behind him. He slowed his departure but didn't turn, suspecting that if he did so Guthrie would simply slam the door again. There was a long silence. Time enough for Will to wonder what the bears might be making of this peculiar ritual. Then, in a worn voice, Guthrie said, "I know who you are and I know what you want."

"Do you?" Will said, chancing a backward glance.

"I don't let anybody take pictures of me or my place," Guthrie said, as though there was an unceasing parade of photographers at his door.

Will turned now, slowly. Guthrie was standing back from the step, and the porch light threw very little illumination upon him. All Will could make out was a very tall man silhouetted against the murky interior of the shack. "I don't blame you," Will said, "not wanting to be photographed. You've got a perfect right to your privacy."

"Well then, what the fuck do you want?"

"Like I said: I just want to talk."

Guthrie had apparently seen enough of his visitor to satisfy his curiosity, because he now stepped back a pace and started to pull the door closed. Will knew better than to rush the step. He stayed put and played the only card he had. Two names, spoken very softly. "I want to talk about Jacob Steep and Rosa McGee."

The silhouette flinched, and for a moment it seemed certain the man would simply slam the door, and that would be an end to it. But no. Instead, Guthrie stepped back out onto the step. "Do you know them?" he said.

"I met them once," Will replied, "a very long time ago. You knew them too, didn't you?"

"Him, a little. Even that was too much. What's your name again?"


"Well . . . you'd better come inside, before you freeze your balls off."

Unlike the comfortable, well-appointed houses in the rest of the tiny township, Guthrie's dwelling was so primitive it barely seemed habitable, given how bitter the winters up here could be. There was a vintage electric fire heating its single room (a small sink and stove served as a kitchen, the great outdoors was presumably his bathroom), while the furniture seemed to have been culled from the dump. Its inhabitant was scarcely in better condition. Dressed in several layers of grimy clothes, Guthrie was plainly in need of nourishment and medication. Though Will had heard that he was no more than sixty, he looked a good decade older, his skin red-raw in patches and sallow in others, his hair, what little he had, white where it was cleanest. He smelled of sickness and fish.

"How did you find me?" he asked Will as he closed and triple-bolted the door.

"A woman in Mauritius spoke to me about you."

"You want something to warm you up a bit?"

"No, I'm fine."

"What woman's this?"

"I don't know if you'll remember her. Sister Ruth Buchanan?"

"Ruth? Christ. You met Ruth. Well, well. That woman had a mouth on her . . . " He poured a shot of whiskey into a well-beaten enamel mug, and downed it in one. "Nuns talk too much. Ever noticed that?"

"I think that's why there are vows of silence."

The reply pleased Guthrie. He loosed a short, barking laugh, which he followed with another shot of whiskey. "So what did she say about me?" he asked, peering at the whiskey bottle as if to calculate how much solace it had left to offer. Sacrament. Copyright © by Clive Barker. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Sacrament 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Clive Barker's books of blood were splatter-punk to the core. He has developed into a fine writer in any genre. He develops characters, plot, and moves it all along very smoothly. He has a knack for storytelling and is in fine form here. The narrator is on a photo expedition and ends up in a coma due to a tragic accident, his mind takes him back to his childhood, where he encountered a vampire and his companion. This novel is not really scary, but is insightful. There is an undercurrent of sexuality and AIDS, but the writer has always been a risk-taker so this is nothing new. Barker captivates his audience and doesn't let go. Two thumbs way up!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I remember reading the hardcover when it first came out. This is a very memorable book. Couldn't put it down. Def. Recomend.
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I'll miss you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago