Abarat by Clive Barker

Abarat is a very nostalgic book for me. It was published near 20 years ago and I remember reading it as a kid. The first edition I had at the time was filled with full-color illustrations done by the author himself. These works of art really brought the Abarat to life, and I’d recommend finding a first edition if possible, or searching for the art online.

See the source image
Clive Barker’s illustration of the main character, Candy Quackenbush

So, you might be able to tell from the main character’s name that this is technically a children’s book. In my opinion though, if you let that stop you from picking this one up, you’re missing out on a vibrant fantasy world. This story follows a bored, young girl as she is swept away from her home of Chickentown into the fantasy world of the Abarat. In this world, time doesn’t function how it does in our world. There are 25 islands, each accounting for one hour of the day – plus one mysterious island outside time. Not only are there strange creatures living here, one in particular is hunting Candy: Christopher Carrion of the Midnight Isle.

The Good

This book is so vibrant. I fall in love with the characters, the setting, and the story every time I read it. It’s one of those that you just can’t put down, and you feel like you truly know the characters. The setting is fantastic, and the author really brings it to life, especially with the inhabitants of the islands. There’s even tourism in the Abarat, which I think is such a cool detail for world-building.

I also enjoy that you can see the characters learning and changing as the story goes on, as opposed to being flat. There’s nothing worse than someone that never learns from their mistakes – I see this a lot in early 2000’s TV shows, and it really disrupts a good show binge for me.

The Bad

I really have to stretch to find something to dislike about this book for me. The only thing I can imagine is that there is death and danger and a creepy kind of stalking “love”, which some parents may find unsuitable for their kids. For me, even when I read it as a kid, it wasn’t off-putting. Then again, I was raised on graphic horror movies, so this was truly tame for me.

This book is also the first in a series. It’s intended to be five books, but only three have been published so far, with the last one released in 2011. So I guess one of the major “bads” about this is that I want more but can’t get it yet!

The Verdict

Abarat is one I will read again and again. Period. 5/5.

Night Walk

The sun dipped below the horizon. Broad brushstrokes of red and purple soaked the sky and the flowing water of the bayou. Night creatures were stirring in the half-light. They croaked and chirped to each other. It was time to hunt.

Grass shushed underfoot. Brio trotted beside his human, paws almost soundless. His tags jingled together in time with his gait. A glob of slobber flicked from his jowls to Aria’s leg.

“Buddy, that’s gross,” she said, swiping it away in disgust.

He snuffled at something on the ground and ignored her completely.

She rolled her eyes, then peered ahead. A bridge spanned the flow of water. The banks of the bayou sloped sharply downward in a roll of greenery and rocks and…

What is that?

A silhouetted figure stood in the water beneath the bridge. Lank hair framed its face and sank into the water. Yellow eyes shone glared at the trespassers.

Aria fumbled at her waist for the little flashlight she always carried during night walks. She couldn’t look away from the thing under the bridge. Wouldn’t.

The flashlight clicked on, and Aria pointed the beam of light under the bridge like a weapon.

The creature was gone, but water still rippled with its presence.

“What’s that, Brio?”

His head popped up at the cue, looking around for danger. A small wuff escaped his throat. His ears pricked forward.

A low growl started in his chest and radiated up the length of his leash.

He stared at the space under the bridge.

“Time to go,” Aria whispered. They broke into a jog. Brio didn’t look away from the space under the bridge, but kept pace easily with his charge.

The circle of light bobbed in front of them. A chill slid over her bare arms, raising goosebumps. They’d reached the road, and the bridge.

Do I go back along the bayou in the dark or book it across the bridge and get into the neighborhood?

Across the bridge, Christmas lights twinkled. A couple pushed a stroller, talking animatedly to each other. The child in the stroller babbled and pointed to a black cat streaking across the street.

Brio craned his neck, trying to see the creature. He looked up at his human. Ready.

“Let’s go,” Aria commanded. They sprinted over the bridge. When they reached the middle, an icy wetness scrabbled against the back of her neck, and she pushed herself harder. A stench like hot sewage choked her. The creature was close. She kept going.

Finally, they reached the end of the bridge. Brio craned his neck to look behind them, and his lips pulled back in a snarl. Aria followed his gaze.

The creature’s yellow eyes bored into hers. Mottled flesh pulled back from broken teeth in a snarl. Sludge dripped from its lips. Dripping, black hair hung from its scalp, surrounding Aria’s face like a curtain.

“Remember me-e-e-e?” the creature asked.

“Not real, not real, not real,” Aria said under her breath, squeezing her eyes shut. When she opened them again, the creature was gone.

Brio looked up at his human as he tried to herd her deeper into the neighborhood. They both knew the truth.

The evil wasn’t gone. Just hiding.

It would be back.

So… I (finally) started a podcast

If you follow any of my social media platforms, you already know the big news: I started a podcast! This is something I’ve been going back and forth on for…okay, too long for me to actually publicly admit 😅 I’ve always been someone who loathes the sound of their own voice, plus, I’m really introverted. But then again, maybe my introversion is what would make me a good solo podcaster? Not saying I have practice talking to myself, but….

The podcast is called “You’re So Quiet,” and it’s a podcast by an introvert, for introverts. If you’re anything like me, you’ve gotten the “you’re so quiet” comment. (Let’s not forget the time I said “thanks!” to that…..) On YSQ, I’m not going to pretend to be anything but my socially awkward self and I’m inviting you all to come along for the ride! I mean, not like, together. More like…take our own transportation. But be together in spirit. From a distance.

It feels like there’s a lot of pressure to portray yourself as the ideal. Sometimes, this means showing only your highlight reel. This lessens the ability of people to just be themselves, no matter if their true self is on a completely different chart than the societal ideal. So, with this podcast, I’m aiming to inspire people to embrace who they really are, without the filter.

I’ll be dropping new episodes every other Tuesday, at least while I ramp up! I’m so excited to keep sharing with you. So let me know what you want to hear about, and I’ll catch you in a couple weeks. 🥰

In the meantime, you can listen to the podcast here. Don’t forget to rate, review, and subscribe!

The Creature in the Mirror

I’m always watching.

I watch the way you paint your face each morning, only to scrub it off each night. Why do you do that? Do you feel safer with your paint on? You’re never safe from me.

I’m the shadow at the corner of your eye in the middle of the night. I see you avoiding the mirror when its dark. You can’t avoid me forever.

I’m the prickly feeling at the back of your neck when you wake up at three in the morning on the dot. I can see you from my mirror in the bathroom. You should really keep your door closed.

Will you ever learn? Will you cover your mirrors like your grandmother did when she lived with you? You thought she was crazy, but she was the sanest person in this house. You shouldn’t have taken the sheets off the mirrors.

When will you join your grandmother and I in the mirror? She says she misses you.