Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Clive Barker - Abarat

Title: Abarat (Abarat, books 1 & 2)
Author: Clive Barker
Pub. year: 2002
Pages: 388
Editor: HarperCollins

Summary: Abarat: an archipelago of amazement and wonder. A land made up of twenty-five islands, each one representing one hour of the day, each one a unique place of adventure and danger (and one mysterious place out of time), all ruled over by the evil Christopher Carrion, Lord of Midnight, and his monstrous grandmother, Mater Motley. Candy Quackenbush, a 16-year old from Chickentown, Minnesota, crosses by accident from our world into Abarat, and discovers she has been there many, many times before. She has friends there and she has enemies. As Candy makes her journey between all the islands of the archipelago, she will discover a plot by Christopher Carrion to block out the Sun, Moon and stars to achieve a condition of Permanent Midnight. In order to prevent this disaster, Candy must find the courage to confront the Lord of Midnight; and in doing so come to know who she really is: a revelation which will transform her own understanding of her place in the epic events.

I already presented many of my favorite books to you, and I don't think this would feel right if I don't add Abarat to the list. I discovered this book by chance at the bookstore—the cover was beautiful, I knew the author from The Thief of Always (excellent book by the way) and the story seemed intriguing enough for me to go home with the first two books. Probably one of my best compulsive bought of the latest years.

The story works around some classical fantasy elements—a young and courageous girl with a greater destiny, magical creatures, an epic quest to save the world—but beyond all that there is something really fascinating about this story. I don't know if it is because the illustrations (by the author himself) are dazzling, or because the creatures living in the Abarat are so weird that you can't even begin to imagine where they come from, but it seems impossible to remain untouched by these books. Candy is the typical hero that you look upon to, flawed but oh so human, and all the people she meets on her journey are so surprising, terrific and terrible that it's impossible to forget them.

With the third book going out this month, the Abarat quartet will surely be one of the must have for a very long time, fit as well for children as for adults. Original, full of magic, mysteries, epic adventures and emotion, it has everything to seduce the reader, including delightful paintings (don't get the massmarket paperback or you will miss them!) and complex characters. Well, is there anything that could be missing? Oh yes, humour—forget it, it's also funny. If you a have some hours to spare, you definitely should spend them in the Abarat. The islands frozen in time are waiting for you!

Scarebaby, scarebaby,
Where do you run?
Out in the graveyard,
To have some fun?
Dancing with skeletons
Up from the ground?
Doing a jig
On the burial mound?

Scarebaby, scarebaby,
Horrid you are!
With the wings of a bat,
And a face with a scar,
The fangs of a vampire,
The tail of a snake;
You open your mouth
And the noise that you make
Is a song that the Devil sings,
Bitter and loud.
Tell me, my baby,
Was your mother proud?

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