• The Hellbound Heart

  • A Novel
  • By: Clive Barker
  • Narrated by: Jeffrey Kafer
  • Length: 3 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (1,719 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Frank Cotton's insatiable appetite for the dark pleasures of pain led him to the puzzle of Lemarchand's box, and from there, to a death only a sick-minded soul could invent. But his brother's love-crazed wife, Julia, has discovered a way to bring Frank back - though the price will be bloody and terrible...and there will certainly be hell to pay.

©2007 Clive Barker Ink, Inc. (P)2013 David N. WIlson

Featured Article: From Page to Scream—Spine-Chilling Listens that Inspired Horror Movies


Even though your popcorn might end up on the floor at the first jump scare, there’s something inherently satisfying about scary movies. Many standout suspenseful flicks have distinguished literary roots—based on books written by some of the best authors in the genre. These terrifying tales—all of which were adapted for the big screen—offer plenty of frights. Here’s a spotlight on terrifying tales that will have you sleeping with the lights on.

What listeners say about The Hellbound Heart

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A Hellraising Listening Experience

Clive Barker is an author that’s been on my to-read list for a number of years, ever since I first saw the movie Lord of Illusions (jesus, twenty years ago now? yeesh…) and heard Stephen King sing his praises as “the future of horror” way back when. So yeah, Barker’s been in the game for quite a long time, has established himself as an icon within the genre, and I am a woefully massive latecomer to his work. I figured it’s high-time I corrected that by giving The Hellbound Heart a listen.

I went into this book mostly blind. I had a fairly superficial knowledge of Pinhead and the Cenobites (think demonic, leather-clad, freaky, mutilated S&M goth types) thanks to the Hellraiser flicks and their place in pop culture. I knew this was the book that inspired the first Hellraiser movie, which I haven’t seen, and had little idea what to expect story-wise. I guess I had expected a lot of Pinhead and his Cenobites, and was surprised to find them mostly absent save for brief appearances at the beginning and end of this book.

In their absence, though, we get a pretty cool and mysterious gothic-tinged story. Frank Cotton has come to possess an old artifact, Lemarchand’s puzzle box. When opened, it serves as a key between realities, opening the door separating the real from the more realer still. This is, in short, a dimension of nightmares.

Following Frank’s disappearance, his brother Rory and Rory’s wife, Julia, move into the house that Frank had briefly inhabited. Julia finds herself becoming drawn to an empty, drafty room, in which the drapes have been nailed to the window sills to keep the light out. The room seems to ‘speak’ to her, and she finds herself growing emboldened, bringing lovers to this room in order to spill their blood. Blood that Frank needs to return.

Narrated by Jeffry Kaver, Barker’s elegant prose is brought to life in a style somewhat reminiscent of the golden age of radio plays and a touch of Rod Serling. This is a terrific match for the fantastical, metaphysical horrors Barker describes. And, oh boy, describe it he does. We get some pretty brilliant depictions of sex and violence, from the gory-looking Cenobites and Frank’s initial encounter with them, right on up to chaotic finale. Barker goes for the guts, sometimes literally (I suspect “the carpet of her bowels” is a phrase that will stick with me for too damn long), but there is a rather strange beauty to the madness.

The audio production is superb, and I really liked the bit of sound engineering that went into the delivery of dialogue from the Cenobites. Kaver’s narration suddenly takes on an ethereal, otherworldly echo to drive home the fact that these things are not human and most definitely not of this Earth. It was a bit startling to hear at first, but jeez is it ever a cool and welcome addition, and a nice demonstration of the elasticity in design that audiobooks are capable of. Kudos to Crossroads Press for that extra bit of effort!

Ultimately, I felt The Hellbound Heart was a satisfying introduction to Barker’s work, and I’ll be checking out his works in the future as time allows.

11 people found this helpful

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Beautifully done

Would you listen to The Hellbound Heart again? Why?

Yes. I'm very inspired by Barker's works and the audio for this was beautiful.

What other book might you compare The Hellbound Heart to and why?

120 Days of Sodom and The Story of O. Maybe not in plot, but in meaning. The pushing of boundaries.

Have you listened to any of Jeffrey Kafer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I hope to now.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes and did.

Any additional comments?

Kafer's life to the Cenobites was perfection. His voice giving the details of the summoning ritual in the beginning gave it deeper meaning.

6 people found this helpful

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Duh, Hellraiser Anybody?

If you could sum up The Hellbound Heart in three words, what would they be?

Um... Hellraiser's Origins Story

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Hellbound Heart?

The fact that I had NO idea that Clive Barker wrote this as a short story before he wrote the screen play for the movie Hellraiser. For someone who grew up in the 80s you would think I would have known that especially since I like that movie. Anyway... The book is better than the movie, because they ran out of money. "So, Barker and a "Greek guy" animated these scenes (the end sequences) by hand over a single weekend. Barker has also commented that he thinks the FX turned out very well considering the amount of alcohol the two consumed that weekend." (Quoted from IMDb)

Which scene was your favorite?

When the Engineer shows up

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

No. The whole thing is pretty twisted.

Any additional comments?

If you are a Barker fan, this is a must. If you liked the movie Hellraiser, this is a must. If you just like a good, weird horror short story I guess you could make this a must. Give it a shot, you might like it.

10 people found this helpful

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Narration was brought from hell!

You can Google me for the rest of the review! I have a whole review of this book in my Blogger and Wordpress blog:

"Inkish Kingdoms"

Hellbound Heart contains almost all of the mandatory elements for it to be a Horror story: “haunted” houses, magic objects, doors to other dimensions, dark characters, tension, sex, violence, and destruction. This whole story goes around the Lemarchand’s box and its secrets. Twist, click, turn, click, and then: you are doomed for eternity. Most people are scared of dying because nobody knows for sure what is beyond this reality. This novella builds in the reader anxiety, a sense of danger and dread that makes you want to keep reading. At some point, I was yelling (in my head of course) for one of the characters to get the fxck out of that place, and even prayed for that character… (not really, but the book had me on my knees). I want to add that the audiobook had special effects that disturbed me down to my core.

When I say it was brought from hell, I mean it as a complement!

21 people found this helpful

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Not what I expected

What about Jeffrey Kafer’s performance did you like?

Love his voice!!!

Any additional comments?

I listened to this book while on my drive home from work, I got so engrossed that I took it to the gym to finish listening while I worked out. It was fast paced and never dull.

7 people found this helpful

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The book the the movie Hellraiser was based on..

So I didn't like the movie but this short story was great! I wish it wasn't a short story (I know it has chapters but like took 4 hours to finish it) . Definitely some differences here and there from the movie but overall some things were said and done verbatim. Amazing narrator too!

2 people found this helpful

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VIRGIN WHORES

THE SEASONS LONG FOR EACH OTHER
An interesting look at pain and pleasure. What is one man's pain, may be another man's pleasure and vice versa. A man calls up demons, believing he is going to spend eternity in orgies, but what he gets is the opposite.

SOMEWHERE A BELL WAS RINGING
This is bloody and gory, but do not dismiss it as gore for gore's sake. Some thought went into the writing of this story. It is not a masterpiece, but it is entertaining and you will not sleep through it.

COME TO DADDY
Narrator does a great job.

19 people found this helpful

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Clive Barker at his best.

I think this book is woefully underrated in the lexicon of horror, often disregarded as simple torture p*** or body horror without purpose. that is a shame because there is so much more to this story than simply the macabre. What might a person find if they allow themselves to become numb to the pleasures of life? What boundaries will they push in their pursuit of pleasure? And will they regret what they find on the other sides of those boundaries?
definitely a 10 out of 10, A quick and easy read, and deserving of a spot in any horror collection.

1 person found this helpful

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best Gothic horror story ever

Perversion, sex, gore, gluttony, last, pain, and Hell. the story doesn't overstay its welcome and it's tightly wound lore keeps you immersed until the final moments.

1 person found this helpful

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Master of the Fantastic Horror

Came from Hellraiser to get the original story and was not disappointed. Highly recommend for fans of dark fantasy and horror.

1 person found this helpful

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  • David
  • 03-08-17

Hellraiser fans

A great listen for Hellraiser fans, very well read.
As usual Clive Barker does a good job with this story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-07-22

Loved the film, and the book did not ot disappoint

Usually read the book before the film but not this on. Obviously a few minor changes but very much the same story and we'll worth it.

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  • luke midgley
  • 04-02-22

Quite good

Was basically the film. Nothing included other than a small bit at the beginning detailing the ritual. Meh.

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  • JBVC
  • 03-20-22

One of my all-time favorites

Hellbound Heart is one of my all-time favorite books, one of the few I have read multiple times. I was over the moon to find a great audiobook version. Jeffrey Kafer's narration (a few minor mispronunciations of French aside) was fantastic. Will definitely be listening back again!

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  • tracy homer
  • 09-07-21

brilliant book, bad narrator.

brilliant book, much better than the film, which in itself is good.
didn't get on very well with the narrator, sounded like a fake American accent. A book of this stature required a good English narrator. Wish I had gone for the abridged version read by Clive Barker.

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  • Ms. Shelly Coston
  • 03-23-21

short but sweet

As a huge fan of the Hellraiser franchise I wanted to hear the original story. loved it.

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  • MR J LAMBERT
  • 06-02-20

Clive Barker Horror Classic

This is a fantastic version of Clive Barker's hugely influential short horror novel.
The narration by Jeffrey Kafer is superb.
Another great Audible presentation from the guys at Crossroads Press.
Highly recommended.

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  • 541N7
  • 11-21-19

it will tear your soul apart.

So, most know this is what became the movie Hellraiser. Clive Barker seemed to write it specifically to be a movie. There are numerous differences but nothing huge. The story isn't bad but it's not great either. I think it suffers because it's more of a glorified script than novel. The characters really aren't that we'll fleshed out (no pun intended), the movies have done a lot more in that respect which is pretty unusual. Narration was ok, not great but it's still an enjoyable story and it gains a start for being one of the more unique supernatural horrors.

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  • peter court
  • 10-22-19

just simply amazing.

out standing audio book and a must listen to book thats more than the film's.

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  • Noshybabs
  • 05-06-19

I would like to hear this in a British accent

Great book. I can listen to the first chapter over and over. I just love the imagery.

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  • Ky Borham
  • 09-17-17

amazing

simply amazing Clive Barker truly outdid himself so similar to the film and yet the changes he made for the film are so much better while I prefer the film the book is still amazing

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ian Messig
  • 11-30-21

A Classic that still makes me smile

Clive Barker's style and finesse tell tales of the macabre world of Frank Cotton on his quest for the ultimate in pleasure(which is not what he expects at all) .

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-08-20

Love the movie and the book is even better

Loved it, the movie is great but this book is awesome. Can't wait for more

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  • Vron
  • 11-01-17

Short and Sweet and Bloodthirsty

This was a fun read - albeit a tad short. I enjoyed learning what I could about the Cenobites and the Lament Configuration and now I want more.

Of course, if you're looking for Pinhead in particular - this might not be the story for you : )

On a final note; I found the closing lines to be beautifully chosen. Really glad I got this one.