In the Flesh (Books of Blood, #5)

ISBN: 074341733X
ISBN 13: 9780743417334
By: Clive Barker

Check Price Now


Clive Barker Currently Reading Ebook Fantasy Fiction Horror Short Stories Supernatural Thriller To Read

About this book

Terrifying and forbidding, subversive and insightful, Clive Barker's groundbreaking stories revolutionized the worlds of horrific and fantastical fiction and established Barker's dominance over the otherworldly and the all-too-real. Here, as two businessmen encounter beautiful and seductive women and an earnest young woman researches a city slum, Barker maps the boundless vistas of the unfettered imagination -- only to uncover a profound sense of terror and overwhelming dread.

Reader's Thoughts

BiblioBabe Kat gave this a 9.5/10! Read her review here:


This review should be called, San Franciscans put shit on the street every day. Books I have found on the street and then read. The Serpent and The Rainbow. A Wrinkle In Time. A medical book of swallowing disorders (called oddly enough Swallowing Disorders).I was walking around the other night and I found this book on the sidewalk. It's a cheap mass-market paperback with yellowing pages and binding that is on the verge of coming undone. There’s something vaguely ejaculatory about the cover art. In one corner, a kid, whose eyes are screaming mouths, opens his coat only to reveal a missing abdomen and torso, erupting with bees. There’s also some kind of phallic floating troll clutching a bunch of eyeballs that splatter the embossed glossy cover in white pearlescent gobs. See, ejaculatory? Anyway, so I picked it up and took it home with me. I read the book in a little over an hour. I closed the book. I felt neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. There were interesting moments but for the most part … he didn’t go there. It’s pulp operating under the premise of risk, but the stories themselves felt cliché beyond belief. Maybe, they weren’t back in 1986 when this came out. Maybe our culture has chewed up, swallowed and regurgitated this content so many times that it has become tired. Or maybe it was never interesting. But the point is, it’s not really this book, but the fact that a couple of days ago I picked up a book in my neighborhood, took it home, and read it.


Unrelenting horror from Clive Barker. While comparisons to Stephen King abound (including a comment from King himself on the front cover), I miss the dark humor and references to popular culture that King is so good at.I think this is one for the hardcore horror fans only.

Rowan MacBean

** spoiler alert ** The Forbidden - A woman doing her thesis on graffiti chooses a run-down low-rent apartment complex on which to focus her study. She becomes aware of a nasty series of crimes in the area and thinks it might be related. The locals are pretty weird about it. Even weirder than one might expect. This is the story the movie Candyman was based on. I think it actually works better as a movie (not just because more background info was added) but I still enjoyed the story.The Madonna - Some people are trying to redevelop an old swimming pool complex but some weird things start happening when they're separated or there alone. And in the end, both of the male main characters are turned into women. This was my least favorite of the stories in this book because there were a few parts that felt uncomfortably misogynistic to me. That happens with Clive Barker stories sometimes. and often I can't quite figure out if it's just the character or if it's really coming from him.Babel's Children - A woman gets stranded in the middle of nowhere when her car breaks down. She winds up finding and being locked up in a compound where a committee of great thinkers decide the outcome of everything that happens in the world. But instead of deciding through debate, they've come to decide by playing games of chance. This is the shortest story in the book, but it's also my favorite. I love the whole concept, the main character irritated and interested me (sometimes Clive Barker's women fall flat), and there were parts that were creepy and made me think, as well as parts that made me laugh.In The Flesh - Billy Tait is Cleve Smith's new cellmate in jail. It turns out Billy got himself caught and sent to this prison on purpose because he thinks his grandfather (who was an inmate and was hanged there decades before) is calling him there. Insert supernatural murders, secrets and lies, weird dream states, and purgatory. I read a summary of this story before I started it and it didn't sound all that interesting to me. But I was extremely pleasantly surprised. The story before this was my favorite in the book, but this one was still good enough to really stand out. I think it'll stick with me and become one of the stories I call a favorite when I'm asked for reading recommendations.

Adrian Lilly

I thoroughly enjoyed In the Flesh. It’s a strong collection, and it’s obvious from this why Clive Barker is so revered. The title story was an unusual tale of terror, cloistered in a jail cell for the vast majority. The claustrophobic atmosphere played well, and the moments outside the cell were even darker. The second story, The Forbidden, was the inspiration for the film Candyman. Most of the action in the film is taken from the short story, with the locale switched from the UK to the US. The story vacillates from subtly creepy to gory while building to a dramatic and fitting end. The Madonna was a dark tale of just deserts in which two men get what they deserve for how they’ve treated women. The final tale was a departure from the others. Entitled Babel’s Children, it was more of a farce or dark comedy. This enjoyable read built to a satisfying if not predictable end.


Adore him. No better horror fiction anywhere. "In the Flesh" and "The Madonna" were great. "The Forbidden" (the inspiration for the Candyman movies) was phenomenal. "Babel's Children" was perfectly good, but it wasn't a horror story. It could have been, but then it became a little dopey and just somewhat effective as a comedy. His writing style is totally engaging, as always. I could have used more sex, since he slips it into horror in ways that make perfect sense. His power to locate fear and malice in sex is maybe his strongest attribute as an author and artist. I have read too much of him this past year so I'm a bit on overkill, but his work is peerless within the genre.


In 1986, Clive Barker followed the enormous success of the first three volumes of The Books Of Blood, with a final three volumes to create the entire Books Of Blood series. His two omnibus's were later to be broken down, to be sold as individual books. Barker was invited to be able to illustrate these covers with his dark and twisted artwork. This volume was also released in America under the name 'In The Flesh'. The six volumes were all released in their individual forms back in 1985, this fifth volume contains the following short stories: The Forbidden - 37 pages "There are some taboos too terrible to be broken. Some stories too terrible to be true. Until you begin to believe them". Here we have the original inspiration for the film Candyman, which was adapted from the short and further developed upon. The forbidden offers up an intense atmospheric story of tension and horror. The story is very well written, delivering a well crafted and haunting story. The Madonna - 38 pages "She was older than legend: the Unholy Mother whose beautiful children were most men's dream, and every man's nightmare". A nail-biting short packed with more bizarre and horrific images vividly crafted from the mind of Clive Barker. The storyline is gripping and dark, with an atmosphere so chilling, it will haunt you for ages afterwards. The story was later adapted in 1990 into the graphic novel 'Tapping The Vein - Book 4' where it was illustrated by Stan Woch, Mark Farmer and Fred Von Tobel. Babel's Children - 27 pages "A paradise island, lost in a sparkling sea, what better place to plot the end of the world?" A bit of a different short story here, compared with the rest of the shorts in the Books Of Blood. The plot is carefully unfolded, creating an air of mystery to the whole storyline, until the final conclusion hits you in the face. I wasn't that keen on this one, but it was certainly an interesting read. In The Flesh - 46 pages "Every night they locked the cell doors for twelve hours; locked the prisoners in with their regrets and their secret terrors, and something more. Something from the lunatic world of pure slaughter that waited just beyond the walls". One of the most loved and enjoyed of Barker's short stories is this dark and twisted tale that takes you on a trip through the weird and limitless imagination of Clive Barker. The storyline is extremely well-constructed, dragging you further and further into the story as it hurtles towards the horrific conclusion. This is a definite must read for all fans of Barker's work. This volume as a whole offers up a perverse and imaginative world of horrific violence and disturbingly dark creatures. The stories are gripping and original, keeping you entertained and involved. Another superb addition to the Books Of Blood series.

Lee Thompson

This is my favorite volume in the Books of Blood.


One of the follow up collections of short stories after his Books of Blood (in England it was another book of blood). In any case, some great short stories that aim to horrify; it's not as strong as the first three collections (Books of Blood), but worthy of any horror collection. "The Forbidden" introduces us to the Candyman and "The Madonna" is another must read.

Mark R.

****1/2I've read this book a few times. I couldn't say exactly how many; I only vividly recall the first read-through, when I was about twelve years old, this being the second of Barker's books that I picked up, after "The Thief of Always", his first "all-ages" novel.The "Books of Blood", of which this is technically "Part 5", are decidedly NOT all-ages, and the vivid descriptions, often of very dark, grim situations, hit me right away, as a distinct change from "Thief of Always". I loved this book when I was twelve, and I love, probably more, now that I'm twenty-seven.I know I've read the second story, "The Forbidden" a few times, but other than that, I couldn't say if I've read this book three times, four times--except that when I picked it up recently, I remembered almost nothing about any of the stories aside from "The Forbidden". So, time for a re-read.The first two stories, "In the Flesh" and "The Forbidden" are creepy horror stories, and both are very effective. The first story features a young man who ends up in jail, as he says, "on purpose" in an attempt to connect with his grandfather, who was hanged in, and buried on the grounds of, the prison. The reader can't possibly tell where the story is going from there, and it opens up and provides more and more fantasy and horror in its forty or fifty pages, more than most novels can manage."The Forbidden" is the story of the Candyman, a local legend who haunts residents of a broken-down, graffiti-ridden community. This one stays with me, creeps me out after I've finished reading it. One of my favorites of Barker's short stories.When I was younger, I didn't appreciate "The Madonna", the third story in this collection. Reading it again now, I enjoyed it much more, and I wonder if perhaps it really has been over a decade since I last took a look at this story. I can't explain how I could otherwise dismiss it, as it is quite good, and contains elements of "The Metamorphosis" (which, I admit, I hadn't read until fairly recently) along with some more bizarre gender discussion similar to nothing else I've ever read. Not quite as powerful or haunting as the first two stories, "The Madonna" is neverthless an enjoyable read.The last entry, "Babel's Children" is the least of the four, but is still a good time. This one actually has some elements of conspiracy of the government kind, and if my memory is correct--and it rarely is--this is the only story of Barker's that's ever dealt with this subject.Overall, "In the Flesh" is a great collection of four short stories (nearly novellas) that are frequently scary and always well-written. I would probably have to place this collection somewhere in the middle of the "Books of Blood": better than "The Inhuman Condition" and "Cabal" but probably not higher up than the first three. Although, based on what I remembered of these stories, I could be completely wrong. If I live a happy, long life, I'm sure I will read each of the "Books of Blood" at least ten times.

James Dunphy

In the Flesh is book 5 in the Books of Blood series. It has 4 stories. Barker has such a sense of both character and setting. I love seeing all the interesting places his stories take place in. His ability to keep readers guessing is also second to none. Better yet, even if you see the ending coming, it still doesn't feel predictable and cheap. This is writing that won't insult anyone's intelligence (the best kind IMO).Here's how I ordered the stories -In the Flesh - A story about a shadow world/entity in a prison. ***The Forbidden - A women explores/documents urban decay only to become obsessed with local gossip and urban legends. I believe this is the story that sparked the "Candyman" film series. *****The Madonna - I can't describe this one without spoiling anything. I still can't fully describe the Madonna anyway. ***Babel's Children - A Eurotripping woman gets kidnapped by a cult/insane asylum/international Illuminati. *****

Althea Ann

This book is a collection of 4 novelettes from "The New Master of Horror." (not so new anymore!)The title piece, "In the Flesh" deals with a petty criminal trapped in a jail cell with a first-time offender who's messing with more than he bargained for in the spirit of his executed murderer grandfather...."The Forbidden" is the story the movie Candyman was based on. I'm sure you've seen it. The story is shorter, snappier, and more powerful. (And set in England! Huh!)"The Madonna" reminded me of a modern Lovecraft story.... a business deal with a mobster turns into something far more when chthonic horrors lurk in a closed public pool complex..."Babel's Children" - not so much a horror story as a paranoid conspiracy theory. Who do you think is *really* controlling the world governments???Good fun, all of them..

Alex Telander

The Dark Weaveworld of Clive Barker, Part 2 of 3: “In the Flesh”BIOGRAPHY: Clive Barker is the bestselling author of nineteen books, including Weaveworld, Imagica, and Galilee. He regularly shows his art in Los Angeles and New York, and produces and directs for both large and small screen. Recent projects include the Oscar-wining film Gods and Monsters, and an exhibition of erotic paintings and photographs, The Weird and the Wicked. He lives with his husband, the photographer David Armstrong, in Los Angeles, along with his family of dogs, rats, geckos, iguanas, and turtles.“In the Flesh”: A new inmate has joined the prison: a descendant of a man who murdered his wife and children; the man was hung and his grave is under an old bush. The inmate, through the powers of the supernatural, is able to transcend the real world and pass into the plane of death, reaching the town where murderers live after they die. There he finds his grandfather and a reconnoiter of the unusual kind takes place. But what the inmate doesn’t know is that the grandfather has other plans in mind, which involve a trade-off, bringing his old body back to life, where he will be able to continue where he left off.“The Forbidden”: The true story to the successful movie, Candyman, brings a college student to the ghettos of New York, where she hears the local legend of the man who smells of sweets and takes lives. The police pretend he doesn’t exist, even though lives have been taken. It is all very much shrouded in mystery, as Helen tries to solve what is really going on. There is a final confrontation between Helen and the Candyman, while the world around continues on as if nothing is happening.“The Madonna”: In a special building of astounding architecture there is a supernal activity taking place. In a pool the genesis of this metaphysical creation happens. A female beast of disgust, creating imps of revulsion, which are suckled by lolitas of captivating beauty and innocence. And when people discover this repulsive Eden, they inevitably engage it, but then an astounding change takes place from which they can never return to their former selves.“Babel’s Children”: A small island in Greece supports a prison facility of the most exceptional kind. A group of the most powerful people on the planet, created after the Second World War to control worldly decisions. Their existence must remain hidden, since they are like gods. But when they are visited by an inquisitive female, all this will change, and their existence is brought into doubt.Originally published on October 1st 2001 ©Alex C. Telander.For over 500 book reviews, and over 40 exclusive author interviews (both audio and written), visit BookBanter.


"Terrifying and forbidding, subversive and insightful,"...but in reality, kind of disappointing. I found this at the used book store, after having an unsettling day that I wanted a distraction from. Lo and behold, an entire collection of Clive Barker stories I'd never heard of! Now that I've read them, I can understand why his "Books of Blood" are so well known while this one...isn't. A couple of interesting moments, some deliberate cliches (Instead of a hand, his arm ended in *gasp* a hook!), and probably the most florid prose I've ever read. I'm glad Clive has calmed down a little since writing these; saying something in twenty-five words when five would do doesn't make a story scarier, or more interesting.


Frog races to determine the fate of the world? The developing story of a stalker and a social worker. And then there's the woman who seduces a couple of businessmen. Throughout there is a sense of otherworldliness that is devilishly chilling...

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *