Book Review: Barbie Wilde’s Perverse & Perfect Voices of the Damned

The first time I laid eyes on the divine Ms. Barbie Wilde was, like most horror fans, in Hellbound the (superior IMHO) sequel to Clive Barker’s legendary fright flick Hellraiser.

I was 12 years old and darkly in love with all things horror and in my search for movies to feed my hunger for horror I became mesmerized by the severe looking pinhead demon that glared at me from the VHS cover of Hellraiser. Unfortunately (or so I thought), part one had been rented and so I settled for part two to begin my foray into Clive Barker’s twisted world of the cenobites. I don’t remember all that much about my first experience of discovering Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) or even the fabulously wicked Julia (Clare Higgins), but I do remember Barbie.

Of course, how could I ever forget…The box opens, the world comes apart and into the room steps a bald, pale, leather clad demon…with the face of an angel. How fascinating she was, the lone demon woman in Pinhead’s band of cenobites, I was completely transfixed, and the one clear thought I distinctly remember having is “THIS is what a fallen angel would look like”.

The demon, who I now know as Sister Cilice, disappeared at the end of Hellraiser 2, and with her went any hope I had of knowing more about the beautiful but deadly dark angel at Pinhead’s right hand.

Until now that is…

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In Voices of the Damned, author Barbie Wilde takes the willing through a completely engrossing trip through the corridors of hell and finally lays bare the dark origins and continuing story of the intriguing Sister Cilice, a tale which originated as a short story in the Clive Barker inspired anthology Hellbound Hearts. Here however, we find the entire story (for now) of the bloody ex-nun, from her pious (heeheehee) beginnings at the convent all the way to her uprising in hell…and it’s fucking brilliant.

In fact, it’s all fucking brilliant.

Ms. Wilde’s collection of 11 short stories (Zulu Zombies being maybe one the greatest things I’ve EVER read) has only one discernable flaw in that it is too bloody short. I devoured the entire collection in two sittings and then, feeling rather bereft at having lost that unique, perverse and deliciously dark voice in my head, I immediately read it again and it was even better the second time around.

Note: Did I mention it features macabre, beautiful illustrations by Clive Barker himself (yay bonus).

Hellraiser fans will, of course, be enthralled by the tales of the female cenobite, but there is so much more to love in this collection. From zombies to vampires, evil fans to evil kids, stories of wicked women to one story called Polyp which was just…ewwww, horrible ewwww…but in the best way possible, just don’t eat (anything…at all) while reading that particular tale. In spite of its nastiness, and it is so very nasty, neither the distasteful anal adventures in Polyp, nor any other unsavory tidbit will make you put the book down thanks to Wilde’s rare ability to captivate even while making you cringe harder than you knew you could.

Now to be completely honest, there is one tiny weakness in the fold and that is a story called Botophobia (fear of basements) which, far from being bad, just feels more incomplete than anything else. It is still a very entertaining read, and when taken as a whole with the rest of the book, Voices of the Damned is so fucking great, it’s just about flawless. If you love horror (and why else would you be here) and have a dirty little mind (don’t we all) you will find so very much to love in Voices of the Damned, a brilliant, perfect horror collection spawned from the sick, twisted and beautiful mind of Barbie Wilde.

 

Voices of the Damned will be released on October 31st, 2015 in 2 editions:

1. A full color, standard print, Trade Hardback

2. A full color, premium print Deluxe Edition Hardback. When ordered directly from SST’s website, the Deluxe Edition will come with a free collector’s edition full color paperback of just the artwork. Both these editions will be available on Amazon on the 31st of October (but not the free paperback art book, as it’s only available from SST’s website).

The pre-order page is: https://www.sstpublications.co.uk/Voices-of-the-Damned.php

p.s. For more fucked up fun, don’t forget to check out Wilde’s full length horror novel, The Venus Complex.

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