This book is the first of author/illustrator Clive Barker's promised four book series: The Books of Abarat. It took him 4 years to complete the original artwork (100 astounding, disturbing paintings) for this book, and the second book, Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War, contains another 100 equally bizarre original paintings. I don't want to say much about the plot of the book because I feel that half of the fun is trying to figure out what the heck is going on. But I do want to give those of you who haven't started the book yet a piece of advice: skip the prologue and jump right in to the main part of the book. The prologue will just confuse you and possibly make you think you're going to hate the rest. I promise, it's nothing like the prologue. Clive Barker's genius is his imagination, and he shows it most in his characters. Take for instance the Lord of Midnight, Christopher Carrion. The lower half of his head is surrounded by a translucent collar filled with blue fluid, in which swim bright, flickering forms, which he clearly takes pleasure in, smiling if one of them grazes his face. The shapes? "Carrion had found a way to channel every nightmarish thought and image out of the coils of his brain and bring them into this semiphysical form. He breathed the fluid, the flickering forms ran in and out of his mouth and nostrils, soaking his soul in his own nightmares." Whew! Wait until you see the picture - page 125, by the way. Anyway, it's not really a horror book, despite the grotesque bad guys. The heroine is Candy Quackenbush, who is destined to save the Land of Abarat, an archipelago of 25 islands, each existing in one distinct hour of the day, and one for "the time outside time." That's enough for now. Start reading!