Galilee by Clive Barker

Galilee…. I’m not sure how to describe this book, honestly. A love story? The tale of two warring families? Described that way, it sounds sort of like Romeo and Juliet, and even the author of Galilee, Clive Barker, once claimed that it was sort of his take on the famous story. Honestly, though, it really doesn’t share too many similarities.

I probably would never have read this book had it not been sent to me by a certain Man in Black; love stories really aren’t my thing. I remember the last romance novel I had to read, and, well…. I don’t have good memories. Oh Black Widow and the Sandman, why couldn’t you have been an interesting tale of a conspiracy and disease like you promised in your blurb?

But I digress. This isn’t about me complaining about my lack of ability to pay attention to what I’m getting myself into, this is about Galilee. Truth be told this is the first Clive Barker novel I’ve ever read. I know, I know. I’ll get to Hellbound Heart at some point. If anything, this did show me that I probably would be interested in Barker’s other, horror-focused works; his writing is, simply put, stunningly descriptive, enough so to draw me into a world that I normally wouldn’t be so drawn into.

However, as soon as I started the book, I almost couldn’t help it; something compelled me to keep reading, despite the fact that more often than not, nothing was actually happening. Hell, there are literally hundreds of pages devoted to just family squabbles akin to what you would see in a freakin’ soap opera. If the writing had been any worse I probably would’ve put the book down for good fifty pages in. But… something just made me keep turning the pages. It’s hard to describe, but Galilee was able to draw me in so much that I wanted to keep reading, even if truly nothing happened for a long time except marriages and wistfully looking back on the past.

Of course, that isn’t to say that more things happening consistently wouldn’t have been a welcome prospect. Because, you see, the slow pace was definitely one of Galilee‘s faults; more things should’ve happened in 637 pages. At least this did give us plenty of time to see the family dynamics of at least the Geary’s, though, because believe me, this was the most interesting part of the book, believe it or not (and, well, the whole segment of the book devoted to one character’s entire life – I admit that was absolutely captivating). Because once the romance kicks in…. augh. I’m sorry, Clive Barker, but not even you can sell me on a sappy love story.

As it is, despite the fact that many things are gone into in excruciating detail, some things simply aren’t explained as they should be, such as why the Barbarrosas hate Galilee, the titular character, so much. Sure, he doesn’t stay with them forever, but do they really hate him just because he… moves out? Erm. Clingy parents there, I guess.

And Galilee himself… Oh, Galilee (something muttered by countless people in that world, I suppose). You Gary Stu, you. I’m pretty sure he was supposed to be like that, but it also went a ways toward hurting the romance between him and Rachael, as well. Yes, yes. She loves him and all that crap. But why? People instantly fall in love with him, and there was nothing in the book between them that showed me that the love she felt for him was anything but that infatuation that so many people shared for Galilee throughout the many years of his life. It doesn’t exactly say a lot for their love if what she felt for him could be felt by literally anyone… just sayin’.

Plus, why does he love her? Do we ever actually find that out? Nope. I know, such a giant detail left out is pretty shocking, but seriously, read it and you’ll see; we never find out why he loves Rachael. I don’t get it. Maybe he just thinks she’s hot or something. I’d put it off to that if only because she herself is such a boring character. There’s practically nothing to her.

So do I recommend Galilee? Well… yes and no. If you enjoy a good love story, maybe. If you’re a fan of Clive Barker, sure. I’m not sure if this should’ve been the first book of his I read – that spot should’ve been taken up by Hellbound Heart, I think – but it was an interesting read and times, and it does show his beautiful writing skills. Still though, I did find myself getting pretty consistently bored once the romance segments came up, and the novel really never knows what it wants to be about; it’s incredibly scattered. Check it out if you’re bored, but it’s far from one of my favorite books ever.

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3 thoughts on “Galilee by Clive Barker

  1. I’m not sure if we ever mentioned it discussing this, but this was originally intended to be the first book in a trilogy. When I read it I got that kind of vibe- like it was unfinished, like more of the information was coming. That said, it takes a lot of reading between the lines: ie, the rivalry between a mortal family and an immortal family that had past romantic entanglements and hold comparable levels of power- when you look at it that way, it starts to explain itself. Galilee I also read as one of those “tragic” womanizer figures that seems to fall head over heels in love with every woman he meets (but then, it’s been a few years since I read this and it wasn’t exactly easy to understand in the first place, so my memories may be over-simplifying it).

  2. Pingback: THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN « Written in Blood

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