My Thoughts Exactly...
If you have heard of Hellraiser or Candyman, you've heard of Clive Barker. But have you heard of Abarat, a magical tale of fantasy intertwined with horror? The 'lighter' side of Clive Barker is shown in this astonishingly detailed adventure set in a world so intricate it feels like you've stepped in to a new reality. Though it may be a YA fantasy novel, the illustrations and heavy themes make it a read that any age can enjoy. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this masterfully written and illustrated journey in to the realm of Abarat, where time has no tie to the passing of hours, but instead to the islands that we travel through in this adventurous escape.
For more of a dive into specifics for those who have read the book, please scroll down to the 🚨 Spoilers 🚨 section to get in to the nitty gritty, almost as detailed as Klepp's Almanac. Plus, don't forget to leave your own review below to tell us your thoughts!
Trigger Warnings and Ratings
While we all love reading books, sometimes they can have themes and topics that may not be appropriate for everyone. To help figure out if this book is suitable for you, please first take a look at the warnings we have included.
Abarat is considered a YA novel, making it suitable for ages 12+.
While this book is rated for YA, it's fun for any age. The illustrations in the book can be a bit graphic in a gore sense, they are beautifully done and add a lot to the experience.
The book includes heavy themes such as violence, death, abuse, and alcoholism. Read below to see a more detailed list of themes readers may find triggering.
Abarat contains a lot of heavy themes that may not be suitable for all ages, and may be triggering to readers. To help our fans decide if this book is right for them, we have included this trigger warning list as there are topics that readers may find disturbing.
- Physical and mental abuse
- Child abuse
🚨 SPOILERS 🚨
Prepare to indulge in a world of time
With horror, mystery, and myths divine,
A world of hours surrounded by sea,
Read ahead if you wish to discuss mystery.
Be wary if you haven't read
The book of Abarat,
Your not-so-average girl from your average Minnesota city of Chickentown. In a town that runs on chicken slaughter and detachment, Candy is a misfit. She is creative, curious, caring, courageous, compassionate, and completely captivated by the C, the Sea of Izabella, that is.
She is drawn and described as having heterochromia, two different coloured eyes. This differentiating feature marks her as a misfit but is also an ingenious way to hint her connection to both worlds. One is blue, like the Sea of Izabella, and one is brown, like the dusty prairies of Chickentown.
With a drunken, abusive father and a completely disconnected mother, Candy has harnessed her survival skills in an environment completely against her. She has become a sensitive and compassionate person, learning firsthand what treachery humans are capable of. We can see how she is able to accept and befriend creatures who may be confusing or bewildering to look at, as she has learned to see past outward appearances and knows that what is inside makes the monster, as we see in the humans who surround her in Chickentown. This characteristic leads her to befriend some amazing characters, my favourites being the Johns and Malingo.
We also learn of Candy being destined to play a role in the war for control of Abarat. Since she was a child, she always knew she was looking for something more, something weird, and something magical. Her adventure between parallel worlds is just that, her doodles becoming reality in a world not so far away from home.
John Mischief, Malingo, and Jimothi
The John's are a headache, but they're like a loveable bunch of bandits all wrapped up in one wild package. It's like having all of the angels and devils on your shoulder have an outward, physical appearance ready to speak their minds at any time. John brings about the familiar feelings everyone has of an internal struggle of emotions and having to listen to the right one at the right time.
Malingo and Jimothi are like the cute and cuddly, yet fierce, companions everyone wants as their own pet. For Candy though, when she meets Malingo, she likely feels a bond to him as she was a prisoner in her family house just as Malingo was at Woflswinkel's house. Their collaborative escape and struggle together is refreshing to see as they build their strength and courage by helping each other and working in tandem while still encountering hardship along the way. It feels like a race against time but craftily portrayed with multiple plot points to keep your heart racing the entire time. Jimothi adds the fun personification of the struggle between power and knowledge as Wolfswinkel does all he can to build his power and the Tarrie Cats work to contain him to the island. What a good boy, definitely deserves some scratches.
Izarith and Samuel Hastrim Klepp
The folks on Yebba Dim Day are the opposite of Chickentownies. They take Candy in, they have adventurous souls, and they give her care and respect. Izarith and Samuel are like the older siblings that Candy never had who give her some guidance and care to help her find her footing in the world. Izarith provided the much need rest and care Candy needed to start her adventure, and Klepp literally gave her the map and guide of the almanac to give her direction in the world of Abarat.
The women of the 25th Hour are Diamanda, Joephi, and Mespa. These ladies are akin to fairy godmothers, being the powers that protect the islands of Abarat. We know little about who and what they are exactly, but we know their magic is powerful enough to aid Candy in her quest to protect and defend her new weird world. They're like the dark version of a fairy godmother, and I'd be so happy to have them on my side if I were a fairytale princess!
Every heroine needs a foe and Christopher Carrion is quite literally made of nightmare fuel. The Prince of Midnight, or the Nightmare Man, has a mutilated mouth from having it sewn shut when he said the word love, and carries around his nightmares in a fluid-filled tank contraption around his face to let them swim around freely and be commanded by him. He is the last person you would want to meet in a dark or even well lit alley, nonetheless have as an adversary. His cruelty and dark ambition makes him akin to the personification of fear, anxiety, and depression. What else could you ever wish to add to a horror-fantasy villain?
Mendelson Shape, Rojo Pixler, and Kaspar Wolfwinkel
Christopher Carrion's henchmen are all power-hungry, strange, wicked men with unique dark skills and features that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you imagine the treachery that Barker describes in Abarat. They're as if Carrion's nightmares had been weaved in to Abaratians from his own nightmares just to haunt the reality of the living.
The Islands and the Izabella
The idea that Abarat is comprised of islands that are in a constant state of whichever hour it represents is a wonderous concept. It creates the opportunity to discuss the notions that we have of each hour of the day and what we as a society associate with not only that hour but also they type of people who prefer that time of day over others, revealing our true values. And to top it off, the notion of the sea being sentient and directing people to their destinies is a wonderful thought, that if you can muster up the courage to allow the world to take you where it needs to, it will. That's the most wonderful part of fantasy books: being immersed in a world of possibilities that sweep you away in not only the story line, but to imagine what if these things could actually apply to you?
Which of the islands was your favourite? I would have to say the Nonce or Hobarookus would be my places, to eat and nap!
The written imagery from Barker is absolutely stunning on it's own, making it so easy to create the story in your imagination. However, having the illustrations to accompany the tale is a remarkable elevation in storytelling. It's like a dark and twisted fairytale meets a horror painting exhibition. The style of the oil paintings creates such a fluidity that it's as if they are coming out of the Izabella from the pages of the book. They're beautiful, twisted, intriguing, and overall enthralling to flip though on their own, so to find a book with both great writing and paired illustrations in a full novel and series and fun for pretty much any age is a rare gem that I will forever hold dearly in the ever growing library of my mind.
Barker is a triple threat in this book. Between his beautiful story, stunning illustration, and brilliant inclusion of poems and lyrics, he has crafted a book with something for everyone. The inclusion of poems credited to different characters created for Abarat gives the story a beautiful written history, adding depth and lore that just make it seem to me like it's some unknown history of the real world that I get to learn. Having each part of the book open with a new poem as well as songs and quotes from sailors and historical figures bring the history of the Abarat to life slowly as it reveals the backstory in a way that builds the reader's knowledge of the world as well as aids the adventure of our protagonists. As a kid who loved poetry and fantasy, getting to have both working together in such synergy made me feel comforted and intrigued and less of a misfit myself, finding comfort in the weird world full of characters with quirks like my own.
- 250 mL Sparkling Water
This can be any sort of flavored sparkling water of your preference, lime would be best
- 1 oz. simple syrup
(Recipe below, 1/2 the amount used if using flavoured sparkling water)
- 1 oz. lime juice
- 2 mint sprigs
- 4 cucumber slices
- 1 C. boiling water
- 1 C. white sugar
- Boil water and pour 1 C. in to heat-safe container
- Stir in 1 C. of sugar until fully dissolved
- Cover and cool in fridge for 2 hours or until chilled and slightly thickened
- Add mint and cucumber to a shaker and muddle
- Add lime juice, simple syrup, and ice
- Stir for 10 seconds
- Pour in to glass and top with sparkling water
Well, this one is a personal preference so let's get to know our FAN EXPO HQ Team a little more! Here is a list of our team's favorite Midnight Snacks for inspiration!
Karli, Marketing Coordinator & Book Glug Writer:
Sweet mix pickles, crackers or tortilla chips, and turkey bites or honey garlic pepperoni
Dusti, Marketing Coordinator:
Strawberries or raspberries with whipped cream
Maya, Marketing Coordinator:
"Fake Charcuterie Board" - A plate with prosciutto, grapes, and Cool Ranch Doritos
Becca, Marketing Coordinator:
Shredded cheese, out of the bag, standing in front of the open fridge, and a little piece of ham for her cat Pants
Pictured left: Pants
Jasmine, Marketing Coordinator:
Spicy noodles with spam
Breanne, Ops Coordinator:
Eggo waffles, specifically the chocolate chip ones
Emily, Project Manager, Creative Services:
A can of RedBull, because true gamers don't sleep
Valerie, Brand Manager:
Cheese and crackers, but specifically everything-flavored pretzels with spicy pepper jack cheese and/or lemon hummus
Meaghan, Digital Marketing Manager:
Popcorn or chips and spicy salsa - you can't go wrong!
How many of these fun facts did you know? Did we miss any? Let us know when you submit your review!
Abarat is the first book in the Books of Abarat series by Clive Barker. It's followed by Days of Magic, Nights of War, and Absolute Midnight. The series was intended to have five books, but so far Absolute Midnight is the most recent book, releasing in 2011.
Barker drew all of the illustrations in the book himself. He created over oil 300 paintings before he even started writing the first book!
Barker has worked on numerous movies and television shows, in addition to writing everything from books to poetry and plays. His short story collection Books of Blood gained such popularity that reprints boasted Stephen King's quote "I have seen the future of horror and his name is Clive Barker" on the cover.
Barker's short story series Books of Blood have been adapted in to many movies and TV shows. Most notably Rawhead Rex, The Forbidden (adapted to Candyman), The Midnight Meat Train, Dread, and the titular Books of Blood films from 2007 and 2020.
The short story The Forbidden was adapted to film as a series. The first time was in 1992 as Candyman with 2 sequels in the 90's, and another in 2021 with Jordan Peele's Candyman.
The Hellraiser series is based on Barker's 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart. The first movie adaptation was released in 1987, with a remake released in 2022.
Works of art created by Barker were used in the set of the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Around 150 pieces were used in the set for the Academy of the Unseen Arts.
in 2001, McFarlane Toys released a set of monster action figures created by Barker. The set had a novelette included featuring the action figures in the story.
The world of Abarat is unlike anything else. It's a masterful play on space and time with the dark twists of a YA horror
Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
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