Book #41: Mr. B Gone

There are few writers as adept as Clive Barker at putting into the words the inner working of desire, sexuality and how they are inextricably tied into the heart and the mind. With very few exceptions (Gallilie comes to mind, but that may be because it's the one I remember least) each work tears away boundaries and taboos to explore the working of magic, faith, gender and love in every conceivable incarnation. If I sound excessive, it's because few writers have had such a large impact on my imagination.

At first glance his latest novel Mr. B. Gone may seem like a light piece of work, a light lunch between massive meals like the ongoing Abarat series for young adults and the promised conclusions to his Books of the Art. The book speaks directly to the reader, and tells the story of the life of Jakabok Botch, a demon from the 9th circle of Hell who entertains a series of adventures after being captured by a band of greedy humans. It begins with a plea to burn the book without reading it - Botch, or Mr. B. as he's called, has been trapped inside the pages and yearns for release. Eventually, seeing that he's not going to get the freedom of a burned book, he opens up to tell his life story, eventually ending up with how exactly hw became trapped in the book the reader now hold in his or her hands.

Simple enough, but what Barker excels at is incorporating streams of ideas and explorations without sacrificing the momentum of the story. So what you get is an examination of the nature and secret power of the written word, warring demons and angels, and the effects of love and lust on both demon and humankind.

Not too shabby for an "in-between book": the packaging is also lovingly designed to look like an aged book. I'm not going to say it's the best work he's ever done (my personal favorites are Imajica and the often-overlooked Sacrament), but like everything Barker does, Mr. B. Gone is a lovely piece of writing well worth checking out.