Hellraiser: The Toll (Book)
Written by Clive Barker and Mark Alan Miller
Published by Subterranean Press
My advance review copy was digital, so I can’t comment on the quality of the printed product, but the cover art looks awesome, and very fitting for the story. Subterranean are renowned for their production standards, so yes, I too have pre-ordered a copy for my shelves. The interior artwork was part of the digital copy, and that was a bonus, to see fresh artwork from Clive.
Ignoring the movies and the comics and graphic novel story arcs—which I believe Clive Barker prefers to keep separate to the story arc in the books—Hellraiser: The Toll picks up after the events of the original story The Hellbound Heart. It marginally precedes the events of The Scarlet Gospels, although there is a light overlap which I won’t reveal, but references are made to things that happened in the prologue to TSG. I did notice some inconsistencies, though, where references from the movie have superseded lines from the original text. Frank’s last words to Kirsty, for example, come from the movie, and the Hell-Priest (here referred to as The Cold Man) has adornments of nails rather than pins as they’re described in the novella, but I’m splitting hairs instead of skulls, so…
The story is written by Clive’s friend and business colleague Mark Miller (Boom! Comics and Seraphim Inc.) and while the execution of the story is akin to The Scarlet Gospels, the voice is clearly Clive’s. And if, while reading it, you can imagine Clive’s husky American/ Liverpool voice reciting Hellraiser: The Toll at the fireside in his home while surrounded by cigar smoke, then I think you’ll agree it’s a great yarn which is told with an authoritative voice. A little shy of 17,000 words, I felt the story could have been longer, but at least it’s complete and internally consistent, although it does finish too soon and left me longing for more.
If, like me, you’ve been waiting years to find out what events took place in Kirsty’s world (remember she’s Cotton in the movies, but just plain old green-eyed Kirsty in The Hellbound Heart). after those in Lodovico Street, then this tale tells one chain. Those with a yearning for more of the lore surrounding the boxes and their maker LeMerchand will likewise be happy.
However, don’t be too disappointed to find that Harry D’Amour is barely mentioned in Hellraiser: The Toll. I suspect Clive and Mark Miller are planning another novella to bridge the gap between The Toll and The Scarlet Gospels, but that’s only supposition on my part.