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September 28, 2011 / schulerbooks

Abarat – Absolute Midnight, by Clive Barker

When we last saw Candy Quackenbush — late of ultra-boring Chickentown, USA — she was back in the magical waters of the Abarat, after a harrowing adventure back in the reality she’d known her entire life. The freakish Christopher Carrion was apparently dead, having been seen off in a fight with his even more disturbing grandmother, Mater Motley. And she learned that the strange voice in her head was none other than Princess Boa, herself — placed within her skull by the Fantomaya for their own purposes.

There’s not much time to rest, though. A significant portion of the Council is convinced the chaos that has stricken the islands is all her fault, somehow, while the real dangers are going unspoken out of fear. The need to get the Princess out of her needs tending. Things must change if she’s to go forward, though the way seems unclear at the best of times.

That’s not the only change in motion, though. Back in the Hereafter, Candy’s alcoholic father has found religion, or rather it’s found him, and not in a good way. Something equally strange and unsettling has happened to Rojo Pixler, down in the darkened depths of the sea. And on a darkened shore, something familiar washes up — something not quite dead, and entirely unwilling to go into death.

And then there’s the great dark change that Mater Motley is working towards. She plans to free the hideous sacbrood from their tomb, so they will take to the skies and shut out the stars themselves, plunging the world into the prophesied darkness of absolute midnight.In that darkness will she gather her enemies together and destroy them. In that darkness she will rule.

But even that darkness just a small detail in a much larger plan — something truly hideous is afoot, and equally hideous emissaries for the coming change are on the way.

What can be done in the face of such well-laid madness, terror, and death? Can Candy and her disparate band of friends, questionable allies, and fellow refugees stop the coming horror? Or are they doomed to languish under the mad rule of Mater Motley, as the hag of Gorgossium brings about Absolute Midnight?

After waiting for far too long for another chapter in this amazing series, Absolute Midnight did not disappoint. It is replete with quintessential Barker: the harsh but loving collision of the fantastic with the mundane, the changes — both glorious and horrible — that collision brings, and the travails of ordinary people from both sides of that divide as they try to repair the damage, or revel in it.

I’ve often told people that if they took a classic like The Great and Secret Show or Weaveworld, removed the sex and gore, left in the fantastic writing of a creator at the top of his powers, and added tons of astounding art, you’d have Abarat. If you have not read any of these books, do yourself a favor and hunt down Abarat and Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War.

Abarat: Absolute Midnight is out now, and available at all Schuler Books and Music locations, as well as on our website.

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