Cabal (novella)

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First edition (US)
AuthorClive Barker
Cover artistClive Barker
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherPoseidon Press (US)
Collins (UK)
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardcover)

Cabal is a 1988 horror novel by the British author Clive Barker. It was originally published in the United States as part of a collection comprising a novel and several short stories from Barker's sixth and final volume of the Books of Blood.

The book was adapted into the film Nightbreed in 1990, written and directed by Barker himself, starring Craig Sheffer and David Cronenberg.


Boone, a young man suffering from an unspecified mental disorder, is told by his trusted psychiatrist, Decker, that he is responsible for brutal serial murders in Calgary. Boone, however, has no recollection of committing these murders. After a suicide attempt, Boone begins searching for Midian, a semi-mythical city that he sees in his dreams that supposedly offers sanctuary to monsters and miscreants collectively known as the Night Breed.

After a suicide attempt, Boone is taken to a clinic and told by a fellow patient named Narcisse that he knows where Midian is, seeking entry into the city himself. Thinking this is a Night Breed test of Narcisse's resolve, Narcisse reveals Midian's location to Boone and maniacally savages his own face with a razor. Horrified, Boone escapes the clinic.

Following Narcisse's directions, Boone locates Midian, only to discover that the city lies beneath a cemetery. At the cemetery, two of the Night Breed reveal themselves and attack Boone; one of the assailants bites into Boone's neck, but he narrowly manages to escape. Decker appears and reveals to Boone that Decker himself had committed the serial murders and framed Boone as a scapegoat. Boone is then shot dead by the local policemen who had been pursuing him alongside Decker. Boone's body is placed in a morgue, but it later mysteriously disappears.

Boone's lover, Lori, is unable to cope with what she's been told about Boone, so she decides to travel to Midian for answers. Along the way, she makes friends with Sheryl, who decides to accompany her, though Sheryl stays in town and does not enter the cemetery.

Lori encounters a small, frail creature writhing in pain at the cemetery. One of the Night Breed, Rachel, begs Lori to bring the creature to her. When she does so, the creature transforms into a human child: Rachel's daughter, Babette. As thanks, Rachel informs Lori that she knows Lori has come for Boone, but Rachel is silenced by the Night Breed leader, Lylesburg, before she can reveal any more information. Lori is refused entrance to the city.

Meanwhile, Decker, having gained Sheryl's trust by seducing her beforehand, kills Sheryl and reveals his identity to Lori. Lori narrowly escapes Decker's attack and returns to Midian, where a revived Boone saves her with his new Night Breed power against Lylesburg's wishes.

As punishment, by the will of Midian’s creator, Baphomet, Lylesburg commands the couple to leave Midian. Reunited, Boone and Lori return to the hotel that Lori was staying at, only to discover that Decker has already been there and has massacred many people inside. The police arrive and, though Lori is able to flee, Boone degenerates into an animal state at the sight of Decker's carnage, eating some of the dead bodies before getting arrested. Decker convinces the police chief, the bigoted, radical Eigerman, to go to Midian and capture or kill everyone living there.

Eigerman sends a small squad of officers to scout Midian in order to confirm the fact that there are people there. Eigerman's men capture and kill Ohnaka, one of the Night Breed, an event witnessed by Babette, who telepathically transmits the information to Lori.

Lori meets up with the Narcisse, and together they help Boone escape from jail. Elsewhere, Eigerman and Decker organize a lynch mob made up of police and volunteers to attack Midian. Eigerman takes a priest called Ashberry along.

Boone, Lori, and Narcisse find that Eigerman's men have overrun Midian and that many of the Night Breed have been killed, forcing them out from the underground by setting the city aflame. Decker manages to kill Narcisse by decapitation during the battle, but Boone later has a final confrontation with Decker and kills him. Eigerman's men are chased off by the Night Breed, but Midian is completely destroyed and many Night Breed have been killed. Eigerman and Ashberry decide to form a team in order to eradicate the Night Breed. Baphomet re-baptizes Boone as "Cabal" and grants him new power, tasking him with finding a new home for the Night Breed, a task he accepts.


In 2013, small press publisher Fiddleblack released an "annotated, limited edition" of the novella, titled Cabal & Other Annotations. The hand-numbered books were limited to a run of 300 and contained a collection of essays from Barker-centric contributors such as Peter H. Gilmore and Nicholas Vince, as well as artwork by Barker himself and a sizable appendix of scholarly footnotes by horror philosopher Eugene Thacker.[1]


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 September 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)