It's a good thing though that Barker has a series (a quartet?) for young adults that is just as deliciously strange as his adult fiction. And third book in the series, Abarat: Absolute Midnight, doesn't disappoint.
Because this is a work from the twisted imagination of Barker, the characters range from the divine to the damned. Mater Motley, the book's primary villain, is a crazy old crone who wears a dress weighed down by the souls of the tormented. Motley is constantly surrounded by other monstrosities, and Barker's description of these is fascinating. The only "normal" character is Candy Quackenbush, the heroine of the series, who is still at the mystical land of Abarat.
To imagine Abarat, you will have to suspend all disbelief. It's a place, terrible and wonderful at the same time, that is made up of islands. Each island corresponds to a particular time of day. So there are islands who are bathed in sunshine at all times, and those that are perpetually clothed in the nighttime, such as Midnight where Mater Motley resides. In book 3, Mater Motley comes up with a plan to bring eternal midnight to the whole of Abarat, and it's only Candy who can stop her.
Barker doesn't come out with an Abarat book every year. Why? Each book has hundreds of paintings, which are all by Barker himself, that go hand in hand with the story. (And I'm guessing that it does take some time to paint.) Barker's style is what I would consider as grotesque; it complements his monsters.
Here are some of my favorite images in the third book:
With all the young adult fiction featuring vampires, zombies, werewolves, fairies, and other usual
Read this book if:
- You feel a strange affinity toward Pinhead.
- You love monsters.
- Your favorite time of the day is midnight.