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Everville
By Clive Barker

Reviewed by Joe Parra
Rating: 3 out of 4

First of all, in order to fully understand this epic novel, one must read other Clive Barker novels and see the film Lord of Illusions - and even then sort of wing it and jump right in there. If you've read The Great and Secret Show, you've got an introduction to the main protagonists and antagonists: private detective Harry D'Amour, biker Tesla Bombeck, Tommy-Ray the Death Boy, Fletcher the evil warlock, and Kissoon (the most malevolent wizard, and Fletcher's boss). To make a long story short, all these personages previously did battle in an attempt to open a way to another world where strange, possibly superior beings live. Hmmmm, (song cue): "Seems to me I've heard that song before..."

Well, it seems that some of the gang that was thought to have been wiped out in The Great and Secret Show were not; and their quest has taken some very unexpected turns. Everville starts out as the saga of Maeve O'Connell (a poor, young Irish immigrant) and her father as they join a wagon train heading into the American West of 1848, to what would become Oregon. Owen Buddenbaum (who, in the course of the tale, is revealed to be quite evil himself, as well as gay) has sent Maeve and her dad on the quest westward to help establish a new realm - a paradise on earth, if you will. The O'Connells meet up with the usual hardships: hostile Indians, impassable snow-covered mountains, and prejudice. Unfortunately for the O'Connells, their beliefs, religiously-speaking, are contrary to those of their fellow travelers. Maeve and her father are labelled witches; and Maeve's father is shot and killed. Suddenly, there is a rustling in the trees; and a creature comes forward, slays the would-be do-gooders, and saves Maeve, whom it then takes to its world. A dimensional warp on top of a mountain leads to Quiddity, a place humans usually only get to visit in their dreams.

Now we jump to modern times. Everville is a small town about to celebrate its centennial-something birthday. Tesla and company are compelled to come to Everville for both good and bad reasons. Neither side knows the reason for their necessary presences; but they all must and will come to Everville. Some of them will come in contact with the current residents of Everville; and some will either kill those residents or alter their existences forever...

The primary difficulty with Barker's novel is that if you've only bought this book, there's no indication that this book is actually a sequel. Thus, after the first chapter, it's quite possible to feel that you've skipped several chapters. Another difficulty is that the characters that have appeared in previous tales are not given much background in this one.

That aside, Everville is a good tale once it gets going. The narrative is never dull or silly; and the characters are generally well-drawn. The obvious comparisons with H.P. Lovecraft are welcome ones - Barker's tales are never so much rip-offs as homages (with maybe a touch of Arthur Machen thrown in for insanity's sake). If there is one thing Barker constantly needs, it's a strong editor. Not that there is a lot of junk there; but there's so much information that it's more than possible to get lost in the shuffle.

Once more, Mr. Barker has pulled us into his kaleidoscope of magic. If you look too long, you've stayed too long. But if you go at a leisurely pace, you'll not get lost. No matter, after all, as all roads lead to Everville! Enjoy!

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