The Forbidden

As she prepared to leave the sun went in, and the bands of light faded. She glanced over her shoulder at the boarded windows, and saw for the first time that one four-word slogan had been sprayed on the wall beneath them. “Sweets to the sweet” it read.

I’m currently reading Christine but as I mentioned before, it’s quite the sizeable tome and hasn’t been the quickest read. I felt like taking a quick break from Uncle Stephen for a moment to read this short by his horror contemporary, Clive Barker. In fact, the anthology that houses this story – Books of Blood: Volumes 4-6 – features a cover blurb from the man himself: “Clive Barker is so good I am almost literally tongue-tied.”

Cute, huh?

The Forbidden in case you weren’t aware, is the story that inspired (and was adapted into) my favourite horror movie of all time, Candyman (1992).  So no prizes for guessing why I wanted to read it. The novella is based in England rather than the Chicago of the film which really intrigued me – and tells tale of Helen, a post-grad student doing her thesis on urban graffiti. When she visits the rundown Spector Street Estate to take some photographs for her project, she learns about a horrible murder and becomes just a little bit too involved in the sinister goings on.

Her weary body understood. Her nerves, tired of jangling, understood. The sweetness he offered was life withoutliving: was to be dead, but remembered everywhere; immortal in gossip and graffiti.”Be my victim,” he said.”No…” she murmured.

*Spoilers*

I loved it. The Candyman of the story is every bit as seductive as my boo Tony Todd but he’s terrifying in such a visceral way. The way he’s described is so different and heinous, yet there’s still something appealing about him, like giving into the death he’s offering would be the sweetest relief and delicious to boot.

Some of the names are the same as in the movie (Trevor, Anne-Marie, Bernadette) – even patronising shit-bag Purcell makes an appearance – and I loved his little segment but they are quite different characters. Trevor is still a cheating bastard but this time Helen turns a blind eye, claiming not to give a single shit when he disappears for two nights straight. The setting is very similar, even if the locations are not, right down to the rotten public toilet in which an  alleged attack is made on a young man with learning disabilities.

The crime surrounding Anne-Marie and her son is far more sinister and graphic however and I find the realism of the estate much creepier than I do Cabrini Green. Maybe it’s just how normal and mundane Anne-Marie’s life seems, how can such horror live side by side her tiny maisonette, while she makes tea for Helen and moans about the council?

A must-read for any horror fan and I’m quite keen to read the rest of the stories now. Barker writes beautiful prose that sure as hell suits the elegance of the Candyman. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

 

Book details:

The Forbidden (from Books of Blood: Volumes 4-6)
Publisher: Sphere (1 Feb. 1988)
ISBN-10: 0751512257
ISBN-13: 978-0751512250
Borrowed

What are you reading?