The moment you pick up this book, you know you’re in for a treat. It’s small and compact, inviting, around 200 pages long. On the front black cover is the title in Gothic type: Mister B. Gone, with Clive Barker carved in rough letters beneath. Between the two lines is a strange pictograph making one curious and interested. On the back is the same symbol and not another word. Turn the cover and there is a strange marble page design, which kind of looks like a webbing of veins and arteries, followed by two title pages, then the book begins with these words: “BURN THIS BOOK.”
Bestselling author Clive Barker hasn’t released a book in some time, and is currently in the middle of his four-book Abarat series, as well as the third book in the Art trilogy due sometime this decade or the next. And yet the concept for Mister B. Gone suddenly occurred to Barker one day and he was supposedly unable to do anything else until he got this book out of his head.
This book is about a demon. In fact, it’s a book written by a demon; it’s his story, because he’s trapped in the book. He has but one request for the reader: to burn the book and free the demon by killing it, presumably sending it back to the ninth level of hell. His name is Jakabok Botch, and as he continuously tries to convince the reader to burn the book, he reveals more of his life story.
It is the sixteenth century, and when the demon is trapped and scooped from the ninth level of hell to the surface by a group of people looking to make a profit from selling demon skins, Jakabok’s adventure begins. He soon befriends another demon, Quitoon, of a much greater size and power than him, and their friendship lasts over a hundred years, as they spend their time terrorizing and demonizing the world. The story builds and builds to a crescendo involving Joahnnes Gutenberg and the invention of his revolutionizing printing press which will irrevocably change the world.
While Mister B. Gone lacks the depth, development and sheer incredulity that one is used to with Barker’s work, it is nevertheless a great little horror story. And each time Jakabok threatens on the page that he is coming up behind you with a knife, the reader can’t help but reflexively stop and look behind them.
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Originally written on November 10th 2007 ©Alex C. Telander.