Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Audible Review: Tortured Souls by Clive Barker

Clive Barker is an incredibly creative person. Books, movies, paintings⁠—Clive Barker has created them all and done so masterfully. Oftentimes, his artistry will span across multiple mediums at the same time, which is the case with Tortured Souls. This novella, which is an Audible exclusive, consists of writings that accompanied Todd McFarlane action figures of the same name. These figures were released between 2001-2002, and each of them included a 32-page novelette. There were two sets of figures. The first contained six figures⁠—each accompanied by a novelette exclusive to that figure. The second batch of six figures didn’t include any new written material. In February 2015, these novelettes were combined to create the Tortured Souls novella.

I love Clive Barker’s writing because it’s inventive, poetic, and unrestrained. Tortured Souls has these elements, yet it’s not nearly as memorable or compelling as Barker’s other work. Why? I think the reason is because it’s six individual pieces stitched together. This gives the story a disjointed feel and affects the flow of the writing. Furthermore, this is the only time I can recall that Barker wrote prose for the purpose of a toy line⁠. Normally, toys, movies, TV shows, and other items are inspired by his writing, not the other way around. To me, the writing playing second fiddle to the toy line is the ultimate reason why it suffers. That said, Tortured Souls is still an interesting curiosity for Clive Barker devotees, such as myself, to listen to and enjoy.

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