Barbie Wilde is the very model of “multi-disciplinarian”. Musician, dancer, model, journalist and one of horror’s most recognizable icons – The Female Cenobite from Clive Barker’s HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II. She’s done it all. In recent years, though, she has been gaining notoriety and acclaim on a new career path: author.
Wilde polished her skills in that most-honored (and harder than it looks) fields of “entry level” writing: the short story. Sharpening her teeth in the true crime genre, Wilde eventually made the leap to full-on horror, starting with an entry in the 2009 HELLRAISER-themed anthology, HELLBOUND HEARTS. And she hasn’t stopped to take a breath. With multiple stories published in a number of anthologies as well as her first novel, 2012’s THE VENUS COMPLEX, under her belt, Wilde has proven herself to be a prolific and very-active creative force. Violence, pitch-black humour and yes, sex can be found in equal measure in her work, drawing complimentary comparisons to Clive Barker’s early works in his seminal Books of Blood collections. And now, readers get the chance to see these stories collected in one place.
VOICES OF THE DAMNED gathers together Wilde’s short stories into a single volume, and what a piece of work it is. Featuring a cover by Clive Barker, interior illustrations by Barker, Nick Percival & Steve McGinnis (and many, many more) an introduction by Fangoria’s Editor-In-Chief Chris Alexander and an afterword by Vancouver’s twin terrors, Jen and Sylvia Soska, it’s clear that Wilde’s got the support of a lot of the genre’s players. Superlatives are good, but does the work inside match the dust-jacket hyperbole?
Oh, yes. Yes, it most certainly does.
Wilde covers a wide range of sub-genres, ranging from body-horror to Old-World folklore to stories that defy classic convention or description. There’s a little something for everyone, but these stories are my personal favourites and recommendations
POLYP: a routine colonoscopy becomes anything but, when the patient learns that there is something malignant, hungry and alive inside him. And it wants out.
VALESKA: a clever, blood-and-sex soaked reinvention of the vampire mythology, with a female “Seminal” drawn into the war between her kind’s two rival factions.
AMERICAN MUTANT: a wealthy and successful televangelist learns that he is the father of a teenaged boy, one with the powers of both sin and redemption in his hands.
THE ALPDRUCKE: A man suffering from a sleep disorder learns that his problems are so much worse, as he has been targeted by a malicious nightmare demon.
GAIA: a woman, broken and battered by events in her past, reinvents herself as her goddess namesake, which is very bad news for the two thugs who choose her home for a break-and-enter.
For HELLRAISER devotees, the big hook (pun intentional) here is The Sister Cilice Trilogy, the first time all three stories have been collected in one volume. Wilde has taken the character so long associated with her career – Pinhead’s second-in-command, The Female Cenobite – and fleshed her out. She now has a name, a history and her own agenda . The result is a wonderful expansion of the Hellraiser universe which follows her entry into Hell and her subsequent ascension to the top ranks of The Order Of The Gash. It’s ambitious, epic stuff and a more-than-worthy addition to the canon.
Chances are (if your tastes are anything like mine), you’ve already signed onboard for this. For anyone still harbouring any hesitations, allow me to ease your mind. Wilde’s imagination, and her penchant for the disturbing and the sensual, are well worth your time.
VOICES OF THE DAMNED releases on October 31st, with pre-orders available now at Short,Scary Tales Publications.
Next week, I’ll have my interview with Barbie up-and-running for your perusal.
Til then…keep watching, constant reader.