The Scarlet Gospels

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The Scarlet Gospels
The Scarlet Gospels cover.jpg
First edition (US)
Author Clive Barker
Cover artist Clive Barker
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Horror
Publisher St. Martin's Press
Publication date
19 May 2015
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 368

The Scarlet Gospels is a dark fantasy horror novel by author Clive Barker which acts as a continuation to both his previous novella The Hellbound Heart and his canon of Harry D'Amour stories. The book concerns D'Amour's trip into Hell to rescue his friend from The Hell Priest, a character from Barker's previous works.

Summary[edit]

The world's last remaining magicians gather to resurrect Ragowski, a recently deceased member of their order who was killed by the Hell Priest. Ragowski informs them that the Priest is determined to obtain every source of magic known to man, and that their only hope of avoiding his fate is to give the Priest the location of all of their grimoires and talismans. The Hell Priest arrives, having been alerted by the spell that caused Ragowski's resurrection, and proceeds to degrade and massacre all of the magicians save for one, Felixson, whom he enslaves to use as a human servant.

In New Orleans, paranormal detective Harry D'Amour travels to the home of a recently deceased magician who hired him via medium Norma Paine in order to destroy evidence of his occult activities before his family can discover them. Harry learns that the assignment was a trap set by the Hell Priest to kill him, in order to eliminate Harry as a potential obstacle to completing his mission. Harry is rescued by Dale, an elderly Southern man who experiences moments of precognition. Dale sends Harry back to New York City to attend to Norma, who tells Harry that a monumental event is about to occur in the spirit world.

Harry enlists the help of his friend Caz to move Norma to a safehouse operated by their mutual acquaintance, Lana. Joined by Dale, they attempt to transport Norma, only to witness the opening of a portal to Hell in Manhattan. The Priest emerges and absconds with Norma, telling Harry that a momentous event in Hell's history is about to occur and that, after Harry's survival of the assassination attempt, he has decided that he will be the perfect individual to write the Priest's personal account of the events.

Harry and his group - dubbed the Harrowers - discover that Lucifer has disappeared and that Hell has developed into a thriving civilization in his absence. They learn that the Priest has been using his accrued knowledge of magic to kill Hell's various ruling classes, in order to eliminate any obstacles on his pilgrimage into a forbidden region of Hell called the Wastelands. The Harrowers follow the Priest into the Wastelands, where they discover a tribe of inbred demons waiting to take them across a cursed lake to a tiny island in the center. The Priest and Norma have already secured passage to the island, where the Priest hopes to find a rumored cathedral - Lucifer's throne room - where he can experience a spiritual revelation by holding audience with the Devil.

The Harrowers and the Priest discover that the cathedral is in fact Lucifer's tomb, after he had committed suicide due to being forced to live away from the presence of God. Enraged, the Priest strips Lucifer's body of its armor, dons it himself, and declares himself the new Lord of Hell. Armies led by the surviving generals of Hell raid the cathedral and attack on the Priest, but, powered by Lucifer's armor, he easily defeats most of them. The removal of the armor inadvertently resurrects Lucifer, enraged that he must once more endure existence without God and engaging the Priest in battle. Although the Priest seemingly defeats Lucifer, the angel's immortal body reconstitutes itself and he disembowels the Priest. Lucifer announces his intention to destroy Hell as the Harrowers and Norma, along with the surviving demons, flee the cathedral.

The desiccated remnants of the Hell Priest confront the Harrowers on the shores of the lake, where the Priest blinds Harry and rapes Norma to death before fleeing. The Harrowers escape Hell after discovering a wormhole that leads them to a desert road in Arizona. Meanwhile, Lucifer crushes all of Hell and its inhabitants beneath its collapsing stone sky, before traveling to New York and resolving to make a name for himself. Angels from Heaven come to observe the ruins of Hell. Later, an unseen force eliminates Hell from existence, destroying the Hell Priest with it.

In New York, Harry — permanently blind and sinking into alcoholism — is contacted by Norma's ghost, who tells him that she's gone on to Paradise and that she wants him to take her place as a medium who comforts the recently deceased. Taking up residence in her old office, Harry is overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of a throng of ghosts wanting his assistance, before seeing the ghost of a small child clinging to an older woman. Feeling compassion, Harry comforts the child and tells the pair that they can trust him to help.

Development[edit]

The novel had a long gestation period, with Barker talking as early as 1998 about wanting to write a story in which he killed the Pinhead character. Updates to the novel's progress appeared on Barker's website sporadically over the course of the next twelve years, mostly related to the book's progressively swelling length; at one point, Barker predicted that his completed manuscript would reach 1,000-2,000 pages.[1] Updates culminated in a June 18, 2010 Twitter announcement that "the 243,000 words of 'The Scarlet Gospels' merely lacks a publisher". Due to the length of the completed work, the book underwent heavy editing between 2010 and 2013, with Barker announcing on Sept 9, 2013, that although no date had been set for release, "The Scarlet Gospels are finished."[2] In 2014, Barker announced the book's publication on his official website with the message: “Clive is delighted to announce that St Martin's Press has acquired world English rights to publish The Scarlet Gospels, his upcoming novel featuring Pinhead and Harry D'Amour."

St Martin's Press released the book on May 19, 2015.[3]

Prequel[edit]

Hellraiser: The Toll is a 2018 horror novella written by Mark Alan Miller and published by Subterranean Press, from a story by Clive Barker.[4] It serves as a sequel to the 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart and a prequel to The Scarlet Gospels, both written by Barker, set thirty years after the events of the former. It focuses on the returning Kirsty Singer, as she once again comes face-to-face with the Hell Priest. Meanwhile, the Priest calls upon a first witness for his plan seen in The Scarlet Gospels.[4][5]

The Toll evolved from the partially written short story Heaven's Reply by Clive Barker that had been in development dating back to 2010. At one point, Heaven's Reply was integrated into a screenplay for a Hellraiser reboot, which would have featured the creator of the Lament Configuration–the Frenchmen Lemarchand–and would have opened in the fictional location of Devil's Island.[4][6] The script was turned in to Dimension Films, but did not move forward. According to Barker, "That was the last anyone heard until news of a sequel surfaced."[7] When Barker didn't know where to take the short story, it was suggested by his collaborators that the plot tie into the fictitious events of The Scarlet Gospels. After considering how to do it, author Mark Alan Miller backwards engineered the story into the novella Hellraiser: The Toll to be published by Subterranean Press.[4] The novella received a limited release in February 2018, in two separate editions–a limited edition, with a quantity of 724 clothbound copies made available, and a lettered edition, with an availability of 26 leatherbound copies.[5]

References[edit]

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