Have you read “The Great and Secret Show” by Clive Barker? Everville is a direct sequel to the events and world created within that novel. If you have, read on for my spoiler free review of Everville.
If not, I don’t know if you should read any further, because there are potential spoilers for “The Great and Secret Show” even in a spoiler free review of Everville. Sort of like reading a review for “The Two Towers” without having read “The Fellowship of the Ring” or a review of “The Empire Strikes Back” without having watched “A New Hope.”
Anyway, back to Everville. The novel itself is split up into seven parts. The timeline of this book appears to start before the events of “The Great and Secret Show,” in part one and then from part two onward after those events.
Everville expands upon the world Barker created and at it’s core are the same values and issues that were within The Great and Secret Show; the Art, Quiddity, and stories.
I started reading Everville about five or six years since I had finished the book that was it’s predecessor. While I very much loved The Great and Secret Show, apparently, I was unaware of just how many loose ends there were at the end of that book, or that could be just a part of the time lapsed and memory, but there are also threads that I thought were cut that came back together.
Some of the bit players from the first novel come back to take center stage in Everville, but you needn’t go back and pick it up to refresh your memory. Barker does that along the way, so that you remember more and more of “The Great and Secret Show” as you read through the pages of Everville.
Enough, let’s get to the plot. Everille sits near a border between our world and the world of Quiddity, the dream sea. The town, forgetting its history and founding now lives in ignorance of its position straddling the two worlds. And what unfolds is a story that follows quite a few players, major and minor, that all end up converging at some point or another.
The base knowledge of “the Art” isn’t quite expanded, when compared to the exquisite details and comprehension Barker put into furthering our knowledge of Quiddity.
This is known as “Book of the Art #2” and it very much is. I’ve seen in some places, that people believe this can be read alone, or as some have suggested, it could be read out of order. But I just don’t see it having the same impact, if read before opening the pages of “The Great and Secret Show” which is “Book of the Art #1).
And like the first Book of the Art, Everville, for all of it’s fictions, has lessons in truth, some obvious like “things mundane and things miraculous were not, as reason had it, irrevocably divided. Quite the reverse.”
“But patience was easy if it was all you had; and it was.”
“Like all great liars, there was enough truth in what he said to make it perfectly plausible.”
And some very hard truths as well…
“that things happened, and there was no real reason why. You weren’t being tested, you weren’t being rewarded, you were just being. And so was everybody and everything else, including tumors and bad hearts: all just being.”
“I think sometimes there’s two different kinds of people in the world. Those people who understand and those who don’t. And if they don’t, it’s no use trying to explain, ‘cause it’s just beyond them, and it always will be.”
“It’s not reality that causes the trouble, Harry. It’s illusions…”
“Oh, maybe the best journeys are the ones with no return ticket…”
“In truth, he pitied the nay-sayers; the souls too stunted or too narcissistic to revel in the magnificent minutiae that the human drama had to offer.”
“…If you don’t know what’s ahead of you, why be scared of it? There’s a lot of sense in that.”
But perhaps the most intriguing part of the entire book is one that is a part of this world and the unknown simply as “the reef…” It was a room with “six monitors, two printing machines, four fax machines, and three walls of floor-to-ceiling shelves, all loaded down with tapes, cassettes, and box-files of notes.” Into it was fed all manner of stories related to the unknown. Some made up, some half-truths, and of course some wholly unbelievable that were in fact the most true.
It’s not just the end of the book that denotes the potential for more books, it is the creation of the Reef and the fact that it keeps accepting information that leads me to believe Barker could, if he wanted to write more into this world. Write more characters, create more stories, and dive deeper and deeper into “the Art.”
Like every other book that I have read authored by Clive Barker, there is love, there is detail, there is character and truth, that’s how he writes his fiction, and it’s why I keep reading what he writes.
There are two things, that have been etched upon my mind when talking to others about these two books, first that these two books are irrevocably intertwined and should both be read in the proper order, and two, I very much hope that the fans instigation of calling these two books “The Art Trilogy” those it’s only two books, is taken by Barker and run with for a third and final chapter.
Everville very much makes we want to reread “The Great and Secret Show” again, or perhaps it will finally push me to collect and read the graphic novels of the same name, but at the moment my to-read pile is ever growing, so only time will tell.
If you like great fiction, this isn’t the kind with elves, it’s the kind with dreams. And it is wonderful.