Saturday, August 16, 2008

Abarat

AbaratEdition: Unabridged
by Clive Barker
Richard Ferrone
Publisher: Harper Collins
Imprint: HarperAudio
Candy Quackenbush leads a dreary life in a Minnesota prairie town, Chickentown to be precise, so named for its unglamorous and principal industry, chicken farming. The continual smell of blood, feathers and excrement, the stench of her father’s beer, the drudgery of her mother’s life, and the salt of her own tears is enough to set any child to daydreaming. But lately, Candy’s daydreams have become more insistent, her doodling more focused – as if she’s being called – called, inexplicably, to the sea. The only sea in Chickentown is the vast sea of waving prairie grasses that begins at the outskirts of town…until one day, when the scent of an ocean breeze wafts in from another world, bringing with it the self-proclaimed, master thief, John Mischief – together with his seven brothers that reside in antlers upon his head, and their pursuer, the deadly Mendelson Shape. Desperate for a respite from the dreariness of Chickentown, Cindy agrees to aid Mischief, and in so doing, calls forth the Sea of Izabella, which carries them all to the shores of Abarat.

The Abarat is an archipelago consisting of 25 islands, each one set eternally at a particular hour of the day, with the exception of the 25th hour, about which little is known. Yebba Dim Day at 8:00pm, Ninnyhammer at 10:00pm, 6:00am at Efreet - each island with its own weather, geography and particular character. Populated by ordinary, fantastic and mythical creatures including geshrats, sea skippers, and stitchlings, the Abarat is an unsettled land – torn between the mythical old ways, the dark ways of Christopher Carrion, Lord of Gorgossium (or midnight), and the insatiable commercialism of Rojo Pixler’s and his Commexo City on Pyon (3:00am). Candy is thrust into a world that is at once strange and fantastic, yet again, strangely familiar.

This is a novel of epic proportions, over 11 hours on mp3. The cast and lands of the Abarat are rich and fully developed, as is the prose of Clive Barker, full of vivid description and extensive vocabulary, as in this description of the Yebba Dim Day,

It was a city, a city built from the litter of the sea. The street beneath her feet was made from timbers that had clearly been in the water for a long time, and the walls were lined with barnacle-encrusted stone. There were three columns supporting the roof, made of coral fragments cemented together. They were buzzing hives of life unto themselves; their elaborately constructed walls pierced with dozens of windows, from which light poured.

There were three main streets that wound up and around these coral hives, and they were all lined with habitations and thronged with the Yebba Dim Day's citizens.

As far as Candy could see there were plenty of people who resembled folks she might have expected to see on the streets of Chickentown, give or take a sartorial detail: a hat, a coat, a wooden snout. But for every one person that looked perfectly human, there were two who looked perfectly other than human. The children of a thousand marriages between humankind and the great bestiary of the Abarat were abroad on the streets of the city.

Richard Ferrone’s voice on the audiobook version is as rich and varied as the world of the Abarat. A fantastic book! Highly recommended. Ages 12 and up. (Check out the print version as well to enjoy Barker's fantastic artwork!)

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