by Clive Barker
"Nothing ever begins.
There is no first moment; no single word or place from which this or any story springs.
The threads can always be traced back to some earlier tale, and the tales that preceded that; though as the narrator's voice recedes the connections will seem to grow more tenuous, for each age will want the tale told as if it were of its own making."
— Clive Barker (Weaveworld)
Having only read Clive Barker's YA Abarat series, I had expected a intricate, dark, and mind-blowingly beautiful story, but in this story he ratchets it up to 11! He still gleefully creates paradoxical creatures of unexpected beauty and horror like a macabre Dr. Seuss. While having the occasional "lets see how many odd combinations of things I can list to show how creative I am" page or two, the Weaveworld (the fairy land of choice in this story) he sculpts is a world worth fighting for. I was reminded of Neil Gaiman, but while Gaimain often flits gleefully on the surface of darker issues, Barker takes a submarine.
As Cal and Suzanna struggle to save the Weaveworld (which for 100 years has been sleeping in carpet-form), they are pursued by formidable enemies. A nightmarish trio of women (ala the weird sisters)are the first: the Immacolatta, the severe, tantalizingly icy virgin, the Magdalene, a grotesquely sexualized being who rapes men and gives birth to their monstrous offspring, and the Hag, a skeletal, unseeing specter. Shadwell, a smiling human salesman with a jacket that gives all who look at it their hearts desire, but at the cost of their will, is first their tool and them moves to prominence as the enterprising villain of the piece. The rogues gallery is rounded out by my favorite character of all, Hobart, a mad vigilante policeman who dreams of burning all disorder from the world as he peruses our heroes like a strangely sympathetic Javert from hell. The Scourge, the actual Big Bad, is a faceless horror that lurks in the background til the very end.
The main thing in reading this book is to trust Barker. There are moments, especially in the beginning, when you wonder where this is all going, why he introduced this element so immediately, etc. Believe me, he knows what he is doing. While unconventional, it is one of the more structurally satisfying books I have ever read. Just ride in his little rickshaw from the gates of heaven to the mouth of hell and back again.
If you like this book, you may like
Abarat by Clive Barker
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
American Gods by Neil Gaiman