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5 stars
11,569 (41%)
4 stars
9,636 (34%)
3 stars
5,035 (18%)
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1,249 (4%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,575 reviews
Profile Image for Rhea.
215 reviews76 followers
January 27, 2015
This review is weird to write, because I liked this book. Really, I did! In fact, I shelved it with my "semi-favorites" - I enjoyed it that much. But then I thought about it, and realized that it's glittery, trippy exterior had masked its faults, and that Abarat is worse than it seems.

Here's why I liked Abarat: Abarat is not a book. It's an experience.


The whole thing is exquisitely bizarre and beautifully grotesque; populated by an odd cast of characters ranging from John Mischief (whose 7 brothers grow from horns on his head) to Rojo Pixler, entrepreneur and owner of the industrialized island of Pyon, to Christopher Carrion, the Lord of Midnight, who wears a water-filled collar swimming with nightmares.


It takes place in the Abarat; an archipelago of 24 islands, where on each island is a different, unchanging time of day. (And there's one mysterious 25th island.) Each island contains its own wonders; the Nonce (three o'clock in the afternoon) is the home of dragons; Pyon (3 o'clock in the morning) was recently industrialized and is the location of Commexo City; the Gorgossium, Isle of Midnight, is perpetually shrouded in red mist and home to the evil Carrion family.

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Click here for a bigger picture.

And that's what this book is about. Supported by more than 100 vivid, colorful illustrations, Abarat is a book about, well, the Abarat. It's fascinating, lavishly produced, and interesting in it's minutae. It's full of delicious details and designs; for example, look at the next picture upside-down.


But it's about not much else, which leads me to the problems.

(As a side note: I'd also like to mention that I love names and the ones here delighted me. Here are some: Mespa, Gorgossium, the Nonce, Mater Motley, Deuxdeux, The Yebba Dim Day, Soma Plume, Hoobarokus, Speckle Frew, Qualm Hah, the Requiax, and many more.)

Here's why Abarat is a bad book:

Abarat's plot is an excuse for a tour through the islands. This would be fine if the book was still interesting minus the setting; alas, it is not. In fact:

Here is basic plot of Abarat: Candy goes to the Abarat, Carion/Other villains try to catch her, Candy escapes, meets new friends, is attacked by more baddies, escapes, rinse, repeat.

Of course, it's not bad as it sounds - there's multiple villains, each with his or her own agenda, so there's always some tension over what each villain wants with Candy, and how Candy will get away this time. Besides, there are other subplots, such as the one where John Mischief helps a crew search for a guy named Finnegan Hobb. But in the end, nothing really happens. The plot is very muddy - Candy's goal is to... escape the baddies? Return home? Defeat Carrion? And as for John Mischief: we never really understand where and how he'll look for Hobb. It's all very boring, especially with the lack of character.

Ah, the lack of character. There's not much to say about it other than two things:

1. They're flat, and their colorful exterior makes them seem flatter.
2. Candy is given too much time. Developing special abilities? Don't care. Sure, she has my sympathy, and I'm (kind of) rooting for her, but the only way to make a powerful action scene is for us to understand all/most parties and to care for some of them; thus, the scene makes our hearts pound with excitement and concern. The action scenes here bogged down the story.

As for the prose: it's serviceable, and at times elegant, at times awkward. The thing that bothered me most was that capital letters were used to indicate shouting.

And for this last criticism... it's hard to explain, so I quote my friend Kirkus Reviews:

"Yet there is a peculiar lifelessness to all this imaginative fecundity; fascinating in its minutiae, the world fails to cohere about a compelling narrative or charismatic central character. Like the dozens of illustrations by the author, it dazzles with color and detail, but on closer inspection proves curiously flat, all surface and no depth. Still, with three promised sequels on the way, many readers will, like Candy, want to “trust [the sea] Mama Izabella” to take them somewhere worth the trip."

...and that's all I have to say about Abarat.


So will you trust Mama Izabella to take you on a ride?


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Recommendations: If you love the bizarre and are looking for a book that explodes with color and otherworldlyness, (presumably to combat boredom), and wouldn't mind the flat characters and meandering plot, you might enjoy the Abarat.

If not, here are some stellar fantasy titles I recommend:

- Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Lips Touch Three Times. Like Abarat, these are "sensation books" - books which introduce you to otherworlds, which burst with sensations, books which might be short on depth but are abundant with beauty. In these two cases, the prose is also lush and gorgeous, characters have some depth, and the world rings true. (MY REVIEW of Smoke&Bone)

- Possibly Keturah and Lord Death; it's another "sensation book," this time presented as a quiet fairy tale. Once again, it has an exciting plot and delicious prose, but lacks depth and the world has holes. (MY REVIEW)

- Sophisticated fantasy for Middle Grade: The Well Between the Worlds and The Folk Keeper

- Sophisticated fantasy for Young Adult: Seraphina, Seven Realms (MY REVIEW), and Gifts

Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,851 followers
October 22, 2019
One of these books that stay in mind because they are so uniquely written and perfectly master the genre-mix.

It´s a funny trip trough different elements of horror, sci-fi and fantasy from a multitalented writer, director and painter. This man helped the evolution of the horror movie and created memes and tropes for generations and writes unbelievable books like this too. It´s such a rare occasion, because screenwriting and writing novels may be similar, but directing and writing novels is a really great achievement.
Profile Image for Mariel.
667 reviews1,070 followers
July 21, 2011
I think you have to want it to happen to you to open your mouth wide enough to swallow another land of magic, the best friends you'll ever have in your life, maybe you're more special than you realized and the funny feeling there's a movie of you going on is real (um, other people do do that, right?). All the eyes are on you and it's the nightmare that you're naked on the first day of... Oops. It's delicious fear feeling. You're naked and it's the first day of class! Open wiiiiiiiide. But you WANT it to happen. It doesn't make sense if you don't. Magic and great beyonds? Peace, love and understanding? It's in THIS world.

There is no plot description on the book jacket of the paperback copy of Abarat in my possession. The back cover is half rock star image of Clive Barker (he does pretty much everything in entertainment, I think. You get an earring for art and another earring for films. The goatee is for novels!). It's royal purple too! The rest is one word quotes from critics about qualities it possesses ("Clever" and "Whimsical", among others. Hey, they've got a thesaurus and a dictionary. I don't have one!). It doesn't tell you anything if you are like me and look over the already mega famous Clive Barkers of the publishing world. They'll always be there and didn't he do those Hellraiser films? They should tell you something, shouldn't they? Is this the fantasy book about a young girl who finds she is special in the land of adventure that you've always dreamed of reading again?

There are more critics quoted at length inside in the flap. One said stuff about how it turns Alice on its head, like a horror version of Alice and she meets dangerous people instead of friends. Um, no. Alice was the book where a girl didn't want what she wished for and met a whole lot of confusing assholes. Like a foriegner who dreams their whole life of the US of A (yay!) and gets there and Chinatown has the better food so they stay there and never talk to anyone else. I like that Candy Quackenbrush of Chickentown, USA (Minnesota) wants to be in the land of Abarat. She'd get off the tour bus if she were to travel to far off lands. That's the best thing Abarat has going for it.

Chickentown is pretty bleak. The chickens have large talons. There are jobs related to chickens and not much else. I'm a vegetarian so I was feeling (and kinda loving) the hell. I bet those heads run around without bodies and the bodies without heads! Clive Barker did a good job of Abarat, the alternative, too. The islands of the time of the day was a good way to do time travel (time is made up anyway and it can be a different hour if you hop a plane, right?). The people had their own lives and weren't there until the heroine showed up to save the day. That was the other best thing going for it. Like the real world has problems not in a deliberate mock-up of this world in that world problem (yay no world war II analogies!). It's just if you gotta live anywhere chances are pretty good it'll not be that great for everybody. The difference is living in color and living in chicken heads and feet colors. I've lived in nothing towns like that. It sucked!

The problem is not that it is Candytown. I was ready to destar this a notch, and the second book, when my suspicions of reincarnation/soul-body sharing turned out to be true. Of course it was true! That's why so much was a convenient coincidence. I can forgive time travel if there are rules in place. But this is like cheating on character development and that's like the worst thing ever in my book. Barker, you couldn't have come up with anything better than this is because it was what Princess Boa would have done? The there already to explain away because it had already happened before the story takes place? Nuh uh. Write about Candy if you want to write about Candy and write about this Mary Sue Princess Boa chick if you want to write about her. I know who I'd pick. There are too many chase scenes. The whole book is a series of chase scenes. I didn't mind so much until I got to the second book and there were more chase scenes. Boring.

Have you seen the film Labyrinth with David Bowie? This is very much one of those you gotta want it to happen movies. David Bowie in tights. If you don't want that then you won't like Labyrinth. So Bowie plays this questionable bird-like dude who reigns over pitiable monster like creatures and chases after the girl who will be his captive love and he can moon over and still be totally evil with, all the while claiming it'll be some great big change because he looooves her. That's Carrion of Abarat all the way. I liked the pitiable creatures. Shape, Carrion's deformed right hand (his left hand never trusts the right hand. Shape has a bad deal really and truly), was my favorite. It's not a travelogue or about saving the day for him. His life sucks and he hates who he is. I felt that.

Okay, so it is pretty obvious to anyone who has ever read one of these that Candy is gonna make friends. If you like this you want to know what's different. I'm grumpy in retrospect 'cause of the spoiler reason. I'm reading it 'cause of the making friends thing. If you can believe it. Is that lame? I was sad as hell when Dorothy has to go home, when Milo of The Phantom Tollbooth has to go home, the Narnia kids (until they become religious tight asses, anyway). I like that so much better than defeating the ass of evil parts. That's the dream, right? You can move somewhere different and you won't eat nothing but fortune cookies until you die.

The freaking spoiler reason. Too much foreshadowing and wise old ladies shades of Sleeping Beauty talking about what is gonna happen. No, no, no. I might be lured into love with David Bowie tights but I am not that easy!

Also, in book two Candy pisses me off for getting onto another character for stealing food as if she didn't totally steal food in book one. Hypocrite! God, how annoying. I stopped liking her after that, I must admit. It was like she was the resident and not the visitor in a bad way.

It depends on what you want, maybe. I want someone to believe in and root for. I've got a wanderlust thing going on and relate to the desire to pick up and run away at a moment's notice. Do they have to really be special for SPECIAL reasons? Can't they be special for some thing that no one would ever think to notice? That'd be pretty cool. I don't know. I kinda liked this but I felt something was missing and not something missing in the special girl goes to special lands and does special things formula. The missing ingredient is loooove. Love of what it started out with until my spoiler suspicion took overwhelming shape and I started to get ticked off. Maybe he'll redeem himself in the rest of the series. If there are more chase scenes I'll be ticked off again. That's a whole lot of redeeming to do. Don't run! Open wide.
Profile Image for Michelle {Book Hangovers}.
455 reviews190 followers
October 25, 2018
**** October 25, 2018...... Rereading a Third time, this time listening to the audiobook****

This is the second time I've read this fascinating, imaginative adventure story. It is intensely creative, with characters and a world only the mind of Clive Barker could conjure up.
If you'd like to take a journey through an extraordinary world with the bizarre and freakishly curious things that live in it, then this is definitely the book for you.
Like Night and Day, this story has a bit of an odd, disturbing and eerie dark side...But also has a magical, humorous, and encouraging sunny side.
It is undeniably a book you will never forget and it is, without question, still one of my favorite books!

*be sure to check out Clive Barker's Abarat books 2 and 3 as well.
Days of Magic, Nights of War
Absolute Midnight
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,807 reviews797 followers
March 21, 2021
This wonderful, magical book just secured itself a spot in my favourite fantasy books EVER. With this book Barker shows that he can do young adult fantasy just as well as he does horror and it’s just absolutely PHENOMENAL. He blends together such a spectacular mix of dark fantasy with just a dash of horror and the result is just mind blowing. The world Barker has created in this book is just so unique, I’ve never read anything like it and I doubt I ever will again! Not only is the setting unlike anything I’ve ever read before but the characters are a huge part of why I loved this book as well. You have heroes and villains and magical beings and everything else in between and it makes for such a magical experience when added to the amazing world Barker has created! I completely lost myself in the magical world of Abarat and I cannot wait to discover more of what it has to offer in the next books.
13 reviews3 followers
February 21, 2008
I was never a fan of Clive Barker's. In fact, I find most of his movies laughably bad. So when my uncle gave me this book for Christmas and I saw Barker's name written across the top, I am sure my uncle received a very strange and questioning glare from me.

But then he explained to me why he bought it. We are both artists, and the book is based upon a series of paintings that Barker spent 6 years creating. My uncle had read the book and wanted to share it with me.

Boy am I glad he did!

While the first bit of the book, while the main character, Candy Quakenbush, is still in Chickentown, is a bit of a haul to get through, the rest of the book is completely wonderful. Barker's descriptions of the land and creatures of Abarat are so perfect, you don't even need the paintings to picture something. Although, I recommend reading the version with the paintings since they are so wonderful and do add an element to the book.

The first book is more of a setup for the rest of the series. Taking you on a voyage through part of Abarat and establishing the environment.

Keep in mind that these books are for young adults, and they are more on the dark side. I wouldn't consider them horror stories at all, they are fantasy, but there may be characters that could be thought of as scary (there are bad guys, of course).

I have recommended this book to everyone I know. I instantly fell in love with it, and immediately ordered the second book upon finishing so I could read them consecutively. I can't wait for the third to come out later this year. This is a great young adult series that will surely be a classic story in years to come.
Profile Image for Anna.
580 reviews108 followers
December 24, 2016
Τι συμβαίνει όταν είσαι η Κάντι, ετών 15 και ζεις στη μικρή επαρχιακή σου πόλη που το μόνο αξιόλογο που έχει είναι το εργοστάσιο με τα κοτόπουλα και βαριέσαι τη ζωή σου;

Πηγαίνεις στο δάσος, όπου ανακαλύπτεις ότι πέρα από την κοτοπουλο-παραγωγή η βαρετή Κοτοπουλόπολη είναι μια πύλη για τα νησιά του αρχιπελάγους του Άμπαρατ, όπου ο χώρος είναι χρόνος (κάθε νησί αντιστοιχεί σε μια ώρα του εικοσιτετραώρου) και έχει κηρυχθεί πόλεμος ανάμεσα στα νησιά της Νύχτας και της Ημέρας.

Συνεργάτες και συνοδοιπόροι της Κάντι... χμ... μεγάλο ζήτημα.. Μήπως τελικά καλύτερα θα ήταν να ... καθίσει στ' αυγά της; Μπα...

Με υπέροχες ζωγραφιές σχεδιασμένες από το συγγραφέα, αφεθείτε στη μαγεία ενός κλασικού Κλαιβ-μπαρκερικού αναγνώσματος για παιδιά (a.k.a με λίγα εντόσθια και λίγους δαίμονες, αλλά εντάξει, θα κοιμηθείτε το βράδυ!)
Profile Image for Angela.
297 reviews37 followers
July 5, 2007
This is one of those books that I adored in a way that I can't really describe. I'm sorry, I just can't. It was amazing in ways that I can't tell you.

If you like fantasy or science fiction or horror or anything along that particular slant, read. this. book.

If you're going to BUY Abarat, be sure you pay a little extra and get the version with the full color illustrations throughout. It would NOT be the same without them.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,385 reviews410 followers
February 19, 2022
I liked the idea of Abarat but after listening to the audiobook, I have to say it wasn't for me. Glad I read it though. Probably won't continue on with the series
Profile Image for Agus Gumpert .
270 reviews68 followers
January 15, 2021
Es un 2,5 nada de fiar.
Digo nada de fiar en cuanto a mi valoración. Sí, vale, en las características ponía fantasía. Que sí, que también ponía young adult... Pero coj*nes, que hablamos de Clive Barker! Ese Clive Barker que escribió la maravilla de Hellraiser! El de Cabal, Demonio de libro o Libros de Sangre. Ost*as, el rey del gore, las visceras y lo desagradablemente asqueroso! El de los monstruos imposibles!
Pues eso, que me he encontrado un libro de fantasía young adult de cabo a rabo como lo puede ser Alicia en el país de las maravillas, al que se asemeja bastante, la verdad.
Y dirás... "pero subnormal, si lo pone en las características!!!" Pues sí. Me he encontrado justo lo que avisaban... subnormal perdido por esperar otra cosa.
Pero no todo es malo. Personajazo el tal John Fechorías y sus siete hermanos. Ya. El resto es un libro de fantasía young adult. Lo que ponía. Lo que no quise creer. Que inútil me siento...
Si a diferencia de un servidor lo que estás buscando es un libro de fantasía young adult, es una apuesta segura. Si buscas al Clive Barker que yo buscaba, huye y no mires atrás.
Profile Image for Paul.
197 reviews168 followers
September 6, 2015
I had decided, prior to my reading of even the first page, that I was going to give this book an entire star purely for the illustrations, which I briefly skimmed beforehand. As such, my score breaks down as follows:

4 stars for the wonderful story, writing, and characters.
1 star for the gorgeous and enchanting artwork.


My very first Barker book! A marvelous novel, one that starts what is assuredly to be a fantastic series.

I really liked this book. I almost find it hard to believe that it's categorized as a YA work. It's so unlike most contributions to the genre, both in terms of its story and its presentation. I have only a few small complaints, and these pale when compared to the awesome that is the rest of Abarat.

No ridiculously lengthy review for this one. Just a brief summary of my thoughts. Hopefully, that will be enough to convince you that you need to read this book. Like, right now.

Are you reading it yet? No? Fine. You'd better be by the time we reach this review's final sentence. You do not want to know what happens if you aren't. Ready?



What's Amazing

The Worldbuilding

The worldbuilding in this book is just bizarre, and I mean that in a good way. Barker has a very potent imagination, and this story just bleeds creativity from every page. It's beautiful and head-scratching and confusing and unique. I absolutely loved it.

The Writing

The writing is practically flawless. It has such a poetic and dreamy quality to it that you feel as though you're reading a fairy tale. All I had known about Barker up until this point was that he writes surreal horror. Finding out that he has such a way with words was a wonderful surprise.

The Artwork

The artwork just sells this book. Crafted by Barker himself, the bountiful illustrations may not have the most detailed or realistic of styles, but are gorgeous nonetheless. Having some new surreal splash of color every few pages was a real treat, and helped me envision the author's world in a unique (and gorgeous) way.

What Isn't So Amazing (But Still Works)

The Plot

The plot is fun and moves along briskly, but is problematic in that it feels too much like a setup for the sequels. This is a relatively lengthy book, and yet nothing much actually happens. Candy is unwillingly whisked away to one new situation after another at a rather dizzying pace, which makes the flow of events feel a bit forced. In the end, no real progress has been made in the great scheme of things, and this is frustrating. Because it is the first installment in the series, I can accept the fact that Abarat almost amounts to one big, complex prologue to the "real" story, with the expectation that we get some real progress in the sequel.

Another issue is that certain parts of the story feel a bit too clichéd. We've got Evil Villain who wishes to destroy the world and remake it in his own image (the most dastardly of all nefarious schemes), and is (partially, at least) the way he is now because . This revelation presented an almost silly version of the character, as he was portrayed as being so different in the past that it was hard to accept his extreme transformation into his current incarnation. On the other end of the spectrum, we've got the Naive Heroine who does not know of the prophesies that have foretold her actions, and refuses to believe that she is the one of legend, as she is simply a normal, everyday girl who is nothing special. Barker, however, manages to employ these worn ideas to maximum effect through his sheer creativity and flair for entertainment.

The Description

The writing is wonderful for the most part, but suffers at times from being too vague. I oftentimes found myself confused by the layout of the scenes, as Barker would not provide enough information for me to adequately picture the proceedings. The artwork occasionally didn't help with this problem, as Barker's portrayal of the setup would differ from his description of it within the actual story.


It has a few problems, but Clive Barker's Abarat is still a wonderful book that just works. I absolutely loved it, and cannot recommend it highly enough to those who are growing tired of the endless shelves of mediocre/terrible YA works that fill our libraries and book stores these days.

We're almost to the last sentence of this review. Have you gotten your hands on this book yet? No? You'd better fix that. Now. Because we're just about there.


We're here.

Profile Image for Nora Cayetano.
Author 7 books84 followers
February 29, 2016
¡Increíble! ¡De verdad increíble! Este ha sido otro de los libros que llegaron a mí por azares del destino y han hecho un nidito en mi corazón.

La historia suena simple en un inicio: Candy Quckenbush vive en un pueblo aburrido en medio de la nada. Proveniente de una familia disfuncional, Candy está harta de tener que vivir en un sitio donde los pollos son el tema de conversación más importante.
Un día, el mero instinto le dice que se escape de clases y vagabundee por el pueblo. Es aquí cuando conoce al ladrón John Mischief y a sus siete hermanos (quienes viven en sus cuernos). Los hermanos vienen escapando de Lord Carrion, amo de la Medianoche y de sus secuaces. A partir de este encuentro, en el archipiélago de Abarat Candy se enfrentará a las aventuras que siempre había querido vivir, por más peligrosas que éstas sean.

Añoraba leer algo como esto, tan bonito y tenebroso al mismo tiempo. Durante un segundo estás leyendo sobre pececitos con ataques de risa y luego estás de cara a bestias que no dudarían ni dos segundos en masacrar a un recién nacido.

Ya antes había leído un libro de Clive Barker (otro de su colección "infantil"), y con esta segunda lectura termino de confirmar que sí quiero ser una de sus fans.

Espero pronto tener la segunda novela, porque en mi ejemplar viene una probadita y... ¡caray!

Candy, Malingo y John son especiales y me encantó leer sus escenas, pero Christopher Carrion es quien más me mueve el alma. No daré spoilers, pero las cosas que leí en el capítulo 22 casi me hicieron lagrimear, recordando experiencias propias.

Este es un muy buen libro. Y así como mis primas me indujeron a leer Harry Potter y Artemis Fowl, espero poder seducir a más gente para que lea Abarat.
Profile Image for Lisa.
11 reviews
June 20, 2009
I always tell my students that if Clive Barker weren't so talented, he would be eating people for a living. Though this is a young adult novel, it still has elements of the macabre. Occasionally Barker becomes enthralled by his own imagery, but overall, the plot moves quickly, and you really care about what happens to Candy and what will become of our world once the fate of the Abarat has been decided. I was eager to start book two and have not been disappointed with what I've read so far-about two-thirds.
Profile Image for Amanda.
840 reviews343 followers
November 22, 2016
Upon rereading this teenaged favorite, present me enjoyed this less. A lot of the mystery in this first book is revealed in the third, so knowing the secrets made this read less exciting. Remembering correctly, teenager-me loved guessing at who Candy would fall in love with, which has never been the point of this book, really, but that's where a lot of my past excitement came from. I have loved the sequel to this book more than this one in the past, so I'm interested to see if that is still so!
Profile Image for Nikoleta.
693 reviews275 followers
October 10, 2014
Ένα όμορφο παραμύθι του οποίου οι τόποι, τα πλάσματα... τα πάντα ειναι φτιαγμένα απο έναν υπερρεαλιστικό κόσμο που μόνο στα όνειρα γίνεται να υπάρξει. Αμα δεν διαβάσει κανείς το Άμπαρατ δεν γίνεται να καταλάβει. Η απόλυτη μαγεία.
Profile Image for Stefano Cucinotta.
Author 3 books32 followers
May 15, 2023
Avrei voluto leggere questa storia a 13 anni. Poi a 23. Poi ora, a 38. È una delle cose migliori che mi siano capitate per le mani negli ultimi anni. Amo il Barker horror e La casa delle vacanze è IL libro della mia pre-adoloescenza, e qui ho ritrovato tutto quel buio e quei colori folli che (non) avevo dimenticato. È un Viaggio vero a cui abbandonarsi: pura fantasia, con pagine che zampillano invenzioni e visioni tra il sogno e l'incubo. Barker al suo meglio, che da centinaia di dipinti graffiati costruisce un mondo di ventiquattro isole più una, e centinaia di motivi per tornarci.
Magnifico, rapido, con slanci di poesia e personaggi memorabili. Non vedo l'ora di tornare lì.
Profile Image for Pardis Ahmadi.
139 reviews61 followers
October 22, 2018
Look, i gave Lord of the rings series 5stars ok? As a horror/fantasy book lover i barely give books 5 stars. But this book was so good i can’t even describe it. It felt like Clive Barker was on drugs while writing this book. I suggest it to everyone i like, and i’m definitely gonna continue reading the next two volumes.
Profile Image for Ronyell.
956 reviews320 followers
March 14, 2012
I remembered reading Clive Barker’s classic story, “Abarat” years ago when I was in high school and I remembered really enjoying the story when I first read it. Now, I have taken the time to re-read this book again and lo and behold, I love it just as much now as I did years ago! “Abarat” is clearly a truly creative and exciting for fans of Clive Barker’s novels and exploring surreal fantasy worlds!

Candy Quackenbush was just a normal girl who lived in a boring town called Chickentown, where everything revolves around the history of chickens. One day however, when Candy spots a strange man named John Mischief (whose brothers all stay on the horns of his head) being chased by a frightening creature named Mendelson Shape, she realizes that her world will change forever since she is thrown into a completely strange and fantastic world called Abarat. Once Candy stays in Abarat meeting new friends and enemies most notably Christopher Carrion the Prince of Midnight, she starts to realize many unanswered secrets about herself that could decide the fate of Abarat!

I will admit that this was quite an unusual book to read! Clive Barker has done an excellent job at both writing and illustrating this book about a young girl traveling to a strange and unknown world while finding out more about herself in the process. Clive Barker’s writing is extremely interesting and beautiful as Clive Barker details everything that has happened in Candy’s journeys in vivid detail. I loved the way that Clive Barker describes Abarat as being a place full of wonder, especially the part about how Abarat is a world that has islands that represent a different hour of the day such as the Great Head that represents eight in the evening and Gorgossium is an island that represents midnight. I also loved the way that Clive Barker unfolds the histories of each character little by little without spoiling too much for the readers until the end of the novel which makes me really want to solve the mysteries of each character as the book goes on. The characters in this book were fantastic, especially Candy Quackenbush and John Mischief as they brought life to the story. Candy Quackenbush was quite an unusual heroine as she just easily gets used to the surreal nature of Abarat, which adds more mystery to her background and I also loved the spunky personality that Candy possesses as she always speak her mind and can be a friendly person if she is not threatened. John Mischief is another character I was quite interested in, especially the fact that on his horns, he has the seven smaller heads of his brothers living on his horns, which I found extremely odd yet fascinating at the same time. I also loved how brave and kind hearted John Mischief is, even though his past history is quite questionable. Clive Barker’s illustrations are extremely colorful and creative and I loved the images of the islands that are in Abarat as they are colorful and gorgeous to look at, especially when the lands are surrounded by water and you cannot help but feel like you are actually experiencing the wonderful world of Abarat. I also loved the images of the strange creatures that live in Abarat such as the image of John Mischief himself as he has red skin and has horns where seven small heads (which are his brothers) occupied his horns and some images of birds with skulls for heads. I also loved the fact that Clive Barker manages to make this story have a perfect blend of “Harry Potter” (the magic elements) and “Alice in Wonderland” (main character travels to a strange land) as it made the story extremely creative to read. Here is how I compare the characters from “Alice in Wonderland” to this book:

Alice – Candy Quackenbush
The White Rabbit – John Mischief
The Queen of Hearts – Christopher Carrion
Wonderland – Abarat

The only problem with this novel is that there are some violent content and disturbing images that some readers might not like. Some of the violent content included are a fight with a dragon that involves stabbing and a few beatings of a character. There are also some images that are a bit frightening to look at such as the image of Christopher Carrion himself as he has a pale face and he has a red box shaped mask that shows green worm like things that are the nightmares he keeps in the red box shaped mask.

Overall, “Abarat” is a truly wonderful book that anyone who loves reading fantasy adventure books will enjoy for many years to come! Now, I am off to read the second book in the “Abarat” series,Days of Magic, Nights of War.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog
Profile Image for Karmologyclinic.
248 reviews32 followers
February 1, 2017
Epic fail for Mr. Barker. Here is a review I wrote in 2006:
"And now, let's hop alltogether to our third heroine of the day, Candy Quackenbush. If we should hop on top of the book she enacts in, I wouldn't care less.
This might come as a surprise, at least to me it was, but the new Clive Barker book was not good. What a big dissapointment from my favourite fairy-teller. Abarat by Clive Barker adds up many weaknesses of a bad written book and I will put them here in a few words.
*Few things happen in so many pages. This is not a weakness by itself in writing so maybe I should rewrite my comment. Too many non-significant events need an abundance of pages to be described. If you ask me that's bad writing for books intended to kids, except if you are Pynchon or Joyce or some existentialist writer and you can fill your pages creatively.
*The imagery of Clive Barker's work is fading in the Californian sun. One of his great assets was the dreamlike quality of images he could induce in your brain while reading. He still moves in the same context of creatures and places, but what he makes is not open to your imagination (like the Tsunami creature in the Weaveworld for example), it's drawn, finished and prisoned in words. I can put it this way. He used to give you blueprints for creating your own images of the things he wrote, now he just gives you the things, drawn, colored and signatured. I must say that I finished the plain book edition, just words, not his drawings. But still it didn't worked.
*Now let me tell you the biggest flaw and the main one too, which is the cause of all the other flaws. Because that's what happens when you write a book having a future contract with Disney Entertainment in mind. It makes a crappy director's guide for filming a crappy childish movie. "For Dummies". It explains the easily understandable. Mr. Barker is so scared that his book might fail to have a good director that he pre-edits the scenes. And he is not good at this if we remember his early attempts in filming. Everything is edited in a bad "action for kids" movie, like 101 dalmatians. You can have a drinking game of how many times in this book and the series to come, the foot of miss Candy Quackenbush will be captured at the last moment by her prosecutors, but she in a "magical" way will free it and run away. Played in all variations.
*Which brings us to the subject of the annoyning little heroine, Candy Quackenbush. In the first 100 pages you will wish that that Mendelson Shape will finally kill her, so that she will stop annoying you. But no, she 'ALWAYS' survives and I bet she will make it through the 100 hundred series of books Clive is going to write about her. Other than being an annoying little girl, as a character is empty, purpose-less and poor in fiction quality. And this brings us back to the Disney contract and you can imagine an annoying little girl already selected to play her role. Sets already designed, costumes too. So I finally can put in a sentence what's so annoying with this book. It's not fiction, it's just a detailed description of the movie that will be made from it. That's it.
*I will stop being a bitch, because I could say a lot about the timing of this book. Obviously the success of Harry Potter movies and Narnia made Barker jealous and he wants to grab the pie. Not a bad ambition, but approached in the wrong way. I will stop here cause Clive Barker is still my favourite storyteller and I hope that he will finish the Books Of The Art trilogy
So here I am again, writing more things about what I disliked than what I liked, but I hope you get the picture. Prefer reading The Thief Of Always, if you haven't already."
Profile Image for Badseedgirl.
1,263 reviews67 followers
February 23, 2015
I have found that there are certain things one can expect when reading a Clive Barker novel. Mr. Barker is not only an author, but an artist as well and he brings this artistic eye to his writings. His descriptions of scenes and characters are designed to create an artists’ picture in the readers mind. I have found this to be especially true in his Young Adult novel Abarat: The First Book Of Hours. Mr. Barker’s best skill is the visuals his writings create. He is able to breathe life into the creatures of The Abarat with this skill.

The heroine of our story is Candy Quackenbush, a young woman growing up in the Minnesota town of Chickentown. After getting in trouble for a project she did for a hated teacher, Candy feels compelled to run away from school. She finds herself in the middle of the prairie. There she meets the amazing John Mischief and his seven brothers, eight brothers on one body, and Mendelson Shape, an evil creature chasing John and his brothers. In the events that follow Candy calls forth the magical “Sea of Izabella” And thus begins Candy’s adventures in Abarat.

Abarat is the story of the magical series of Islands found on another plain of existence. These islands are known collectively as “The Abarat”, which is made up of 25 islands each representing one hour in the day, and the 25th island representing the “25th hour”, or time out of time. A magical island in a land of magical islands. When I say the island represents the hour, I mean that on the Island of Yebba Dim Day, the first Island Candy lands on, it is always 8pm.

Clive Barker is a master at making monsters that are not always evil, and pushing the boundaries of what is evil. When hearing of Christopher Carrion, the lord of Midnight’s back story of unrequited love for the Princess, it was hard for me, as the reader, not to feel sympathy. I mean who has never loved someone and been rejected by them? This does not negate the fact that he wants to bring perpetual darkness to all of Abarat. And call forth beings called “Requiax” who seem to me to be some sort of super evil beginnings (Think the Titans from Greek mythology) who can only survive in utter darkness.

The development of the scenes and visuals are defiantly the stand out in this novel. As is usually the case in Mr. Barker’s novels the non-human creatures that inhabit this novel are the best characters in the novel. But don’t be fooled, Clive Barker just loves to play with the idea of what is monstrous on the outside and a beautiful outside hiding a monster on the inside. This holds true for this novel also. Take for example the character Rojo Pixler, Candy describes him as the most human creature she has met in Abarat, but he is systematically putting a strangle hold of power over the Islands of Light, and is trying to destroy magic in Abarat, to make the citizens dependent on him. I see great and evil things from this character in the future.

All and all Abarat: The First Book of Hours was an amazing introductory novel in what appears to be a dark and entertaining young adult series from Clive Barker.
Profile Image for Kyle.
121 reviews206 followers
February 1, 2018
This book reminds the reader (if they are older like me) what it's like to have a childlike imagination again. Very dreamlike and surreal, reading this book is like riding shotgun during the road-trip through a child's night-time dream, instead of listening to the child the next morning trying to tell you about it. "And then there were robot ninjas!" the kid might tell you while you shake your head incredulously and appease him with the occasional 'uh-huh' or 'yeah yeah.' "And then those robot ninjas rode on giant bugs to fight the evil wizard, but the evil wizard attacked them with giant chickens!" Such fantastical things seem mundane compared to Abarat.

But it's not just the dreamlike extraordinary things that cause Abarat to reboot that long-dormant part of their mind. It's the innocence of the refreshingly mundane; meeting new people, seeing new things for the first time, and experiencing things for the first time. Do you remember what it was like to meet your first childhood friend? Do you remember what your favorite food tasted like the first time you ate it? I love traveling and seeing new places. But, that very first time I saw something truly strange, truly wondrous... that was the moment that my love of traveling was birthed.

Journeying through this book taps into all those mechanisms of what it was like to see or do something for the very first time. In a world where we make the same commute to work every day, eat at the same handful of selected favorite restaurants when we go out, or regularly fill our lives with mundane routine. This book takes us back to the world being a new and overwhelming place. To a world where we feel alone and scared and overwhelmed, but also to a world where we get to discover its joys for the first time, and meet its new inhabitants for the first time (friendly or otherwise).
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
25 reviews1 follower
February 22, 2008
I read this book some time ago, so my memory of it is fading, but the thing I remember the most about it is that it failed to ever develop a plot that drew me in and held me there. I love the illustrations, and some other details about Abarat, but the admittedly whimsical descriptions of this foreign land were not enough to fill 500 pages. I even read the second book but I was so unimpressed that I don't remember anything about it. Still, three stars for the awesome illustrations and imaginative characters.
Profile Image for Danni The Girl.
560 reviews30 followers
August 9, 2019
Oh Abarat
Recommended to me by my Dad who is a HUGE Clive Barker fan

I read Weaveworld and I found that was very heavy going and the imagination was so vast.

I thought this would be the same

Oh no no no. Pure and brilliant fantasy world that you can really sink your teeth into. So many adventures to be had and so much to see. I was fully immersed in this story and enjoyed the twists and turns along the way.

I am intrigued to see what happens with Candy in the next one
Profile Image for Димитър Цолов.
Author 28 books290 followers
May 9, 2016
Чел съм 4 тома от "Кървави книги" и новелата "Прикован към Ада", с които Клайв Баркър ме впечатли доста, но именно "Абарат" ме "отвя" и затвърди убеждението ми, че това е един брутално добър писател, чието въображение няма граници. "Детска" книжка ли, дрън-дрън, ха-ха, нека всички детски книжки са такива, тогава ще чета само детски книжки!!!
Profile Image for Jona Lectores Constantes .
119 reviews213 followers
October 25, 2022
↣Abarat | Clive Barker 2002 | Fantasía | 384 páginas. (primer libro de una saga de 5 libros)

Candy vive en un pueblito de estados unidos muy aburrido. Se siente desesperanzada en relación a su futuro y se lleva mal con casi todos. De repente todo aquel mundo aburrido y monótono lleno de problemas es arrasado por una ola gigante que la arrastra a Abarat, un lugar de fantasía donde todo es extraño, pero a la vez increíble. Prontamente se encuentra con problemas surrealistas que son más diabólicos de lo que jamás hubiera imaginado.  🏝🏝

-Sin spoilers
-Solo mi opinión.

𝗣𝗼𝘀𝗶𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗼 ☻︎
-Descripciones fantásticas exquisitas y bizarras. SON HERMOSAS. La prosa de Barker me encanta.
-La imaginación del autor me sorprende. El universo creado es de cinco estrellas.
-criaturas originales que van muy bien con la historia.
-El libro original viene con ilustraciones hechas por el mismo autor, y son simplemente bellas. Pondré una en la segunda foto de este post. BUSQUEN MÁS, SON MUY HERMOSAS. ✅

𝗡𝗲𝗴𝗮𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗼 ☹︎
-Parte muy bien la historia, pero se volvió demasiado infantil para mi gusto. De hecho dudo seguir con la saga por lo mismo.
-La personalidad de Candy me chocaba, era DEMASIADO abierta de mente, y actuaba poco acorde a su edad.
-Personajes planos. Aparece uno, tiene sus dos paginas de fama y no lo volvemos a ver. Me aburría ese ritmo. ❌

*Hay un punto que no sé si es negativo o positivo pero debo mencionarlo: la historia tiene un aura infantil, sin dudas es un libro para niños o adolescentes, pero de repente aparecía una escena aterradora y oscura. Me encantaba, pero siento que el libro no se definía bien por un estilo…

3,5 estrellas de 5 ⭐️

*𝚁𝚎𝚌𝚞𝚎𝚛𝚍𝚊 𝚚𝚞𝚎 𝚖𝚒 𝚘𝚙𝚒𝚗𝚒𝚘́𝚗 𝚗𝚘 𝚟𝚊𝚕𝚎 𝚗𝚊𝚍𝚊. 𝚂𝚒 𝚝𝚒𝚎𝚗𝚎𝚜 𝚐𝚊𝚗𝚊𝚜 𝚍𝚎 𝚕𝚎𝚎𝚛𝚕𝚘... 𝙷𝙰𝚉𝙻𝙾.
Profile Image for Sergio Mesa.
Author 4 books15 followers
December 30, 2021
Abarat, de Clive Barker, en edición de Oz es la peor mierda infecta que he leído en años. Escribo esta reseña después de leer los tres libros y he decidido ahorrarme esfuerzo y bilis escribiendo una sola para los tres volúmenes.

Para empezar, lo de escribir una saga juvenil, al escritor de Razas de Noche, le sale regular. La diana estaba en algún lugar entre las ocurrencias ridículas (un barco malo malísimo que se llama "Stormwalker" y se desplaza caminando sobre dos patas hechas de rayos. ¿De verdad, Clive?) y las escenas costumbristas de Hellraiser, que es lo que le gusta. Pues la mayoría de los tiros están en esos dos extremos, sobre todo en el primero. Hay cosas bien, cosas menos bien y algunas muy, muy mal.

Pero respecto al trabajo de Barker, lo peor es su completo desprecio por el esquema de historia en tres actos. Que también puede ser incapacidad, pero prefiero pensar que es algo consciente. Cualquiera que haya leído alguna de sus obras largas sabe que tienen una estructura particular. Abarat no es un excepción. En los tres libros pasa lo mismo, pero en el primero es más acusado. Lo que en cualquier novela sería el clímax, aquí llega sobre la mitad del texto y a partir de ahí la trama se comporta como una cabra multiorgásmica, que no para de dar tumbos y subir y bajar en una sucesión de miniclimax que no sabes cómo tomarte... hasta que el pobre animal muere de un paro cardiaco, la novela acaba y tu te quedas con cara de tonto. Es un chascarrillo grosero y un poco críptico, lo sé. Pero después de mil y pico páginas de Abarat, de Clive Barker, en edición de Oz Editorial, es lo que hay.

Y es que todo esto no sería tan grave si los libros estuvieran editados con un poco más de respeto. Pero es que lo que ha hecho Oz Editorial con la obra de Barker es digno de cualquier cenobita.

La traducción, de cuyo autor no quiero ni saber el nombre, es un despropósito el que se toman decisiones tan cuestionables como traducir siempre "destination" como "destinación", que será correcto según la RAE, pero es un uso raro, raro, raro. Y como ese otras tantas ("freído", me dolió). Pero es que además, todo el texto es un batiburrillo de adverbios acabados en "-mente", sustantivos repetidos hasta la extenuación, frases puntuadas sin sentido y hasta algunas directamente incomprensibles ("Una sensación distinguida de somnolencia también reptaba por su cuerpo", o sea, O_O).

Pero es que, para llevarlo todo un poco más allá, los libros están llenos, LLENOS, de errores tipográficos. Es que llegan a afectar a los nombres de los personajes. En la segunda parte del segundo libro a "Mater Motley", uno de los personajes principales, se la llama: Moter Motley, Meter Motley, Mater Mtoley y Mater Mtley...

Y luego están las faltas de ortografía. Muchas. Muy graves. Como muestra dejo por aquí las tres patadas en los ojos que aún me duelen: "Izo" por "hizo". "consciencia" por "conciencia" y "armonía" por "harmonía". Que no me las encontré ni una vez, ni dos, ni tres... Si les añadimos una buena ración de laísmos y todo lo comentado arriba, nos queda un rosario de faltas de profesionalidad como no he leído en mucho tiempo.

No se vayan todavía, que aún hay más. Porque la guinda la pone la edición en sí misma. Yo me he leído las ediciones digitales, que me costaron casi cinco euros por lomo en Amazon. Un poco demasiado caros, así a primera vista. Si tenemos en cuenta la calidad de la edición, tal como la he descrito hasta ahora, se acerca mucho a un robo a mano armada. Pero es que además, al menos estas ediciones que he leído, no tenían los dibujos originales de Barker que incluye la edición original. Razón por la que supuse que serían algo más caros de lo normal cuando me los compré. Pero no, no hay más que un mapa del archipiélago de Abarat y listo.

Me duele pensar que los libros, con una edición más respetuosa y profesional, podrían haberme gustado algo más. Barker es un narrador mediocre, pero es un artista bastante completo y sigue teniendo algunos destellos de genialidad que hubiera disfrutado mucho más con una lectura menos dolorosa. La pérdida de los dibujos originales también me parece un tema importante. Como digo el autor es un artista multidisciplinar, y contar con su propia visión de los personajes y paisajes alucinados que aparecen en la novela hubiera molado fuerte. Pero no pudo ser.

pd. Por cierto, señores/as de Oz Editorial, hay que tener una cara muy dura y/o unas neuronas muy apagaditas para, después de la edición infernal como la que han hecho de Abarat, tener las narices de pedir que me suscriba a su newsletter. No, no lo haré y me voy a ocupar personalmente de que nadie que conozca lo haga. Suerte y más ver.
Profile Image for Hilary "Fox".
2,069 reviews60 followers
October 4, 2018
Abarat was a five star book the first time I read it, easily. It was invigoratingly new. The world it weaved pushed the limits of imagination and left one reeling with the concepts it pushed. 25 islands, one for each hour of the day where it is only that hour of the day. The 25th island in the middle, Odom's Spire, a mystery none came back from. This is a world of nightmares swimming in fishbowls, where keys can be hidden in one's thoughts, and a corporation can begin to replace one's ability to control magic. A flying vehicle is only a spell away, but magic and technology can go hand in hand to craft the most cunning mechanical spying insects... It's a great thing to imagine, all of this.

And the paintings bring it to life.

It baffles me that there are editions of this book with Clive Barker's beautiful illustrations adorning near every page, yet here we are. This edition has nothing, apart from Christopher Carrion on the cover. Not even the doodles of the sea. It's such a waste, when a trade edition could meld the illustrations with the text.. yet since 2002 I've had a hell of a time finding any hardcover illustrated edition of this book. I'd never even laid my hands upon the second book. Why is this? In so many ways the paintings are married to the text and necessary. Why waste it all and deny so many this experience?

The book, without the paintings, is still all right. It's still a fun romp across the islands and a build up to more. You still meet Malingo and wince at the way he is treated by Ol' Banana Suit. You still shiver with the introduction of Christopher Carrion, and feel conflicted when you learn of Princess Boa. You still are horrified of the fight with the worm and worried for the Johns. You still find the Abarat and begin to plunder its treasures.

Yet with the paintings?

With the paintings it is so much more.

I even found myself searching online to see them one more time as I read...

Such is Abarat, I suppose. The series that could have been, were it not for Harry Potter being at the height of its popularity during this time.

I just hope someday this series is finished.
966 reviews1 follower
August 17, 2016
If you look in my copy of Abarat there is a label in the front that reads "This Book is Donated by the Friends of the Burbank Public Library to Kelcey Soderstrom for the Burbank Public Library Middle School Book Club". So doing a teeny bit of math, I have had this book for at least 13 years. It has survived many purges and a move or two (when most of my books from this book club did not) so that should tell you what you need to know, but here's a drabbley review anyway.

I love the experience of Abarat. Like many young adult fantasy novels that are dipping into the subgenre "urban", we start in the most boring town ever and get whisked to an amazing place of awesome. I really liked seeing the whisking away process and that the main character has an active hand in it. The Abarat is such a phenomenal world with so much still to see, even though it is based on something we know well- the 24 hours in a day. There are so many colorful (literally and figuratively) characters and a couple different plotlines happening to keep everything moving along at a clip clip rate. I even enjoying reading the "villain" because he has back story and depth and the reader can empathize fairly easily.

This book is strongly supported by Barker's artwork and I think reading it without deprives the reader. I hope my teen book club took my advice to look at the art!

I love all the bits and pieces that Barker leaves for the reader to find and I am looking forward to the next books (which I never read due to the delay in their release). And yes tell me all the things about Finnegan and Geneva Peachtree is a badass lady leader and John Mischief is a polite master thief and just, Mr. Barker, tell me all the stories now please thank you.
2 reviews
March 17, 2011
I was nine years old. Me and my parents were going to China and mum had bought me two books to read on the plane. The first one, Lord of the Ring, did not capture my interest at all.
Therefore, I only had Abarat left.
Although I was sceptical about it, I opened it and started reading.
The second day in China and I had finished it. I cried because it was over.
Almost six years later, this book and its sequel still has a special place in my heart. I don't know if it's my favourite any longer, but it was for a very long time. Nevertheless, it captured me from the first chapter (I remained sceptical during the prologue). I could identify with Candy so well. Her wish to do right, how nothing went her way, and how she seemed so alone. Her longings for another, more interesting place remains in my heart and mind, as I for these six years, always have tried to find the sea Izabella and a good painted-red boat to sail it.
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