Clive Barker’s Abarat: An Introduction

Clive Barker is a well-known name among those better acquainted with horror fiction. He counts several graphic novels in his bibliography and is much accomplished both as a writer and as an artist. I don’t really remember how I came upon Abarat. Most probably, it was on one of my adventures in the library. I picked up the hefty volume, read it in one setting and fell madly in love. Since our theme for the month is Halloween and Horror, I feel that Abarat deserves an entire post because it is so suited to theme.

So what, you may ask, is Abarat? It is a series written by Clive Barker that uniquely combines his art and prose into one work that complement each other. I cannot imagine one without the other. Abarat is one of four projected novels with the first three (Abarat (1987), Days of Magic, Nights of War (2004), Absolute Midnight (2011)) already released and the fourth and final volume, The Price of Dreams, scheduled for a 2014 release. The series is called Abarat.

What is Abarat?

Abarat is the name of a world where every hour is an island. There are 24 hours so there are 24 islands and if you want to go to a different time, you travel to a different island because each island remains is an hour. Here’s a picture to make it clearer.

Read more here.

The novels are fully illustrated so I can give you a taste of its characters. Here are the major ones:


Candy Quackenbush (the main character)


The three women of Fantomaya.


John Mischief (and his brothers.)


Malingo (He just may be my favourite character)


Every story needs a villain. Christopher Carrion. But somehow, he makes me pity him.

The plot itself is rich and complicated. There are prophecies, reincarnations, soul switches, evil, good and kindness. There is romance and a very very very terrifying villain. The novels focalize on Candy Quackenbush whose origins are very humble and located in our world. Abarat is a creative triumph. It is the result of creativity and imagination – the stuff of both good dreams and nightmares. Watch this trailer below and you’ll be convinced about it – that is, if you want a terrifying read this Halloween. Pick this up. You won’t regret it.

The trailer was created by Dog Ear Creative.

I leave you with a poem written by Barker in the first novel of the series:

I dreamed a limitless book,
A book unbound,
Its leaves scattered in fantastic abundance.

On every line there was a new horizon drawn,
New heavens supposed;
New states, new souls.

One of those souls,
Dozing through some imagined afternoon,
Dreamed these words,
And needing a hand to set them down,
Made mine.

— Clive Barker, Abarat: Book 1