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zaterdag 19 september 1992

The Damnation Game by Clive Barker

Pure raw horror

Marty Strauss, a gambling addict, has just been released from prison when he gets hired as a personal bodyguard of Joseph Whitehead, one of the richest men on earth. What first seems as a common security assignment, quickly turns out to be much more dangerous. Joseph has some debt that he needs to repay and it is not to some earthly power. When the mansion gets invaded by a devilish man named Mamoulian, it becomes clear that a simple gun won’t help against his powers.

The Damnation Game is the first novel by Clive Barker, directly written after he published his first trilogy of highly renowned Books of Blood. Although it is actually his debut, all the strong characteristics of his later works can be found in this Faustian story. Clive tackles subjects like incest, self-mutilation and cannibalism with a unseen rawness that makes the shivers run down your spine. Certainly the scene where Mamoulian first shows up at the mansion is horrendously detailed in its gruesomeness. If I only think about the description of the severed finger, I get the creeps. At first reading it might seem that the story is not very original, but that seems hardly an issue. The power of The Damnation Game lies mostly in its depiction of the deterioration of oneself due to the destructive power of an addiction.

To call this book a masterpiece might be going a bridge too far, but at least it great literature. But be warned: if you’re looking for a feel-good story, go search somewhere else!

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