First published back in September of 1994, ‘Everville’ formed the second installation into Clive Barker’s ‘The Art’ trilogy and the greatly anticipated sequel to ‘The Great And Secret Show’ (1989).
It’s now five years since the events that took place at the end of ‘The Great And Secret Show’ (1989), and a doorway stands open on a mountain peak, overlooking the quiet city of Everville in Oregon. The doorway leads on to the shores of the magical dream-sea of the Metacosm known as Quiddity.
However, when the doorway opens, a great battle for the ultimate control of the ‘cosm’ (humankind’s corner of the universe) will be played out. The army of the Iad Urobros (a race of pure destructive chaos) are advancing on towards the open doorway, with the domination and annihilation of the cosm in their sights.
In a vain attempt to stop the Iad Urobros’s arrival, Tesla Bombeck (carrying the mind of the apeman Raul) together with the help of the supernatural investigator Harry D’Amour, make their way to Everville. Meanwhile Jo-Beth and Howie once again come face-to-face with Tommy Ray, the self-dubbed ‘Death Boy’, as he competes against Kisson for control of the newly opened portal to Quidddity.
Meanwhile, Phoebe Cobb (the receptionist at a doctor’s surgery), decides to drop everything in her life and instead go on a desperate search for her long-lost lover - Joe Flicker.
Collectively, all of their lives point to one pivotal point at which they will all converge – the ‘axis mundi’. This point is located at the crossroads of Everville where an immense power was buried more than 150 years ago by a young girl. That young girl was none other than Maeve O’Connell - the city’s founder. And at this exact point, four journeys meet – the dream world, the real world, the bestial and the divine.
With the survival of humankind’s entire cosm now at stake, everything rests on the shoulders of these individuals’ lives and how their stories will play out the potential endgame that awaits them all...
Supposedly Barker’s hardest novel to write to date, ‘Everville’ certainly had its work cut out for it following on from the wonderfully elaborate story of the first ‘Book of the Art’ – ‘The Great And Secret Show’ (1989). Although this first instalment into the trilogy ended with a dramatic and altogether satisfying conclusion to the predominant storyline, ‘Everville’ also equally manages to deliver both a stand-alone story and a further extension on to the ongoing plot of the trilogy.
From the outset of this second book, Barker refreshes the reader’s memory of the events and character stories from ‘The Great And Secret Show’ (1989), with recurring references back to the pivotal moments; often re-treading the most significant aspects for the reader. This also allows anyone who has not read the first book to stumble through the entirety of ‘Everville’ without too much bafflement as to what was missed in the first book. However, it is nevertheless strongly recommended not to do this, as the first novel does enrich the whole encompassing plot to a far greater degree, adding backstories and further depth to each of the characters and the resulting paths chosen by them.
Barker once again brings together a beautifully elaborate concoction of the fantastical and awe-inspiring expanses that are uncovered in what can only be described as his near-limitless imagination. Indeed, utilising the ideas of a reality in flux, Barker injects a whole new life into the premise, giving it unlimited levels of scope for the expansion of the tale’s perimeters.
In a similar way to his epic fantasy novel ‘Imajica’ (1991), Barker once again shows he is not afraid to play around with the principles of modern day religious icons (such as the story of Christianity’s Jesus Christ); re-writing aspects of these key religious figures’ backstories to fit in with the scope of his own purposes.
As with ‘The Great And Secret Show’ (1989), Everville’s storyline also incorporates a whole litany of fresh new branches to the storyline that sprout their own unique and equally important threads to the developing plot. All such threads ultimately come together to intertwine into a perfect harmony; arriving at the unavoidable meeting point for the entire tale.
Each moment within the story (however insignificant it may seem at the time) plays its own part in the tale. As such, ‘Everville’ is a novel that needs each element to be absorbed by its readers, as each of them will have a part to play in the way the storyline flows. Fortunately this is not a difficult task, as with all of his work, Barker delivers his stories in such a way that he immerses the reader into the tale almost immediately, with a truly captivating storyline that just keeps the reader engrossed throughout the tale’s length.
The characters from the first novel all find their way into this second instalment, with even further developments made to the depth of their characterisation. Indeed, Harry D’Amour plays a much larger and more fulfilling role within this novel, adding a new and greatly needed heroic element (however gritty) to the tale.
The twists and turns that Barker throws into the novel’s storyline, often whenever the reader finds themselves finally accepting an individual character’s place, keeps the story bursting with fresh new angles and stopping the reader from taking anything for granted in the tale.
All in all, ‘Everville’ is another triumphant novel of fantastical imagination that continues on with the complex but beautifully original journey of the books of ‘The Art’. With ‘Everville’ the reader will once again feel truly at home within Barker’s world, drawing a deep love for each of the long list of characters who play their own unique roles in the unfolding storyline.
The novel runs for a total of 640 pages.
© DLS Reviews