This book consists of the novella 'Cabal,' the story which the movie
'Nightbreed' was based on, and four short stories: The Life Of Death, How Spoilers Bleed, Twilight At The Towers & The Last Illusion.
'Cabal' shows Barker at the height of his obsession with grotesque
sensuality. It begins with Boone, a mentally disturbed man who had
recently hoped he had been getting his life together and making a new start. he recently met a girlfriend, Lori, and things had been going well. But now, his psychologist has convinced him that he is actually a brutal serial killer who has been repressing the memories of his atrocious crimes. Right here, it seems this would be enough a a premise for a work of psychological horror - but Barker quickly
changes tack and introduces the shadowy world of Midian - an
underworld populated by monsters - but monsters who desperately needed a refuge from the horrors of our mundane life.
Boone and Lori's flight from the deranged doctor, and their efforts to expose his deeds, are action-filled enough, but the really significant part of the story is Barker's morally ambiguous Nightbreed and their world, delicately and sympathetically portrayed, even while filled with unpleasantly corporeal and carnal details. While acknowledging that some outcasts are cast out for good reason, Barker also makes his case, eloquently, for the need for a refuge for all those with dark secrets, for those driven to desperation.
'The Life Of Death' - a woman who has just - barely - survived a
dangerous surgery has become oddly obsessed with death. She, driven by curiosity, ventures secretly into a just-dug-up plague crypt. In a bizarre state of mind, she becomes convinced that a man she meets there is Death. But is her strange state of mind just the aftermath of her surgery? Or is she becoming ill?
'How Spoilers Bleed' - a couple of Europeans who cold-bloodedly
murder a tribe of Native Americans meet the terrible curse of a
shaman. (And never did two people deserve it more!)
'Twilight At The Towers' - the CIA and the KGB have secretly been training werewolves to work for them. But werewolves want to run and live free, not to be secret agents.
'The Last Illusion' - a stage magician's power has derived from a deal with the devil. And now, the magician is dead. But he wished to cheat the devil at the very last, and a mysterious friend of the performer teams up with a hired detective to try to save his soul from a fate worse than death.