Throughout Clive Barker's career, he's taken us to places fantastic and frightening, with characters that are unforgettable, horrifying, and awe-inspiring. Nearly twenty years in the making, Barker pits two of his most popular characters, Harry D'Amour and "Pinhead," against each other in an epic conflict that plays out like a horror version of The Lord of the Rings.

With The Scarlet Gospels, Clive Barker reclaims his Cenobite creation in grand fashion, telling a horror / fantasy epic in a way that only he could.

The story opens at the tail end of an alarming extermination of magicians around the world. Not simply illusionists you'd see on TV, these magicians possess artifacts, powers, and knowledge that would ordinarily keep them safe. Who or what is killing off these magicians and to what end is key to the plot that unfolds.

In New York, we meet up with a much older Harry D'Amour, who's still very much in tune with the darker side's influence on the human world, whether he likes it or not. A job that begins as a routine investigation for Harry puts him right in the path of Pinhead, who has plans for the aging detective.

While The Hellbound Heart was certainly the starting point for Clive Barker's Cenobites, it wasn't exactly the birth of Pinhead. After all, the Cenobite that's closest in description is not the leader, has "jeweled" pins in its skull, and is described as having the "voice of an excited girl." While this Cenobite likely served as a prototype for what we see in Hellraiser, it was a different beast altogether.

The Scarlet Gospels takes Barker's lead Cenobite and fully fleshes out the character. As much as I love Hellraiser, there's very little we actually learn about Pinhead and where he comes from. While more is less in the case of villains like Darth Vader and Leatherface, the added layers of complexity only enhance this character. The Pinhead in this novel isn't just another Cenobite, he's a force to be reckoned with and his journey takes readers to the farthest reaches of hell.

In vivid detail, Barker transports us to a place where the infernal abyss isn't dissimilar to our society, complete with its own class struggles, religious devotion, and political maneuvering – a stark contrast to what's described at church to put the fear of God into parishioners. I found myself in awe of the world he has created and fully understand why this story was written over nearly two decades.

In the case of Clive Barker's popular detective, The Scarlet Gospels makes a great case for why I wouldn't want to be in tune to the paranormal. It's a burden for Harry D'Amour as much as it helps him, and his run-in with Pinhead proves to be just as taxing on those close to Harry as it is for him.

The novel is structured in such a way that Pinhead and Harry are given equal time, with the story jumping back and forth between them. Prior to reading the book, I had some concerns that Harry's and Pinhead's worlds wouldn't mesh, but Barker is able to blend the various elements in a way that delivers a really satisfying story for fans of either (or both) characters.

It's rare for me to want to revisit a book right away, but The Scarlet Gospels is one of those special titles. In less than 400 pages, Clive Barker tells such a complex story, with such rich mythology, that you'll immediately want to read it again to take in all that Barker's hell has to offer. "Worth the wait" doesn't even begin to describe what Clive Barker has achieved here. Part horror, part adventure, part fantasy, and part mystery, The Scarlet Gospels is everything a fan could hope for from horror's great imaginer.