Look at me actually hitting the tbr pile :). I bought this new. In 1993! I'm catching up.
I read Dread in Books of Blood Volume 2 a few years back and found it a bit difficult to get into. This graphic novel still makes the skin crawl but cuts out a lot of the tedious talk that bogged down the novella. The artwork is dread-worthy, washed with a dark-hued palette that certainly fits the tone of the story. This isn't my favorite Barker short but it’s worth seeking out of if you’re a fan.
Because I’m super lazy, here’s my plot synopsis/review of the novella from 2010.
Stephen Grace is a university student who catches the eye of a teacher named Quaid. Stephen is afraid of public speaking but Quaid instructs him not only to give voice to his fears but to analyze them. Quaid is fascinated with dread in all its facets and revels in learning more about it.
I have to admit this short story took some work getting into. Seven tries to be exact. It didn’t hook me right away and was a bit boring and dry. Stephen meets Quaid in a local bar and they have a really tedious conversation about the “beast” of philosophy and how the school doesn’t really teach it, eventually leading into a discussion about dread. This begins their tenuous friendship. After some checking around, Stephen learns that strangely enough no one on campus knows much at all about Quaid. When a bright beautiful student named Cheryl begins spending time with Quaid, Stephen is initially jealous because she’s hogging so much of his time. Before long Stephen realizes Quaid is only interested in Cheryl because she is a vegetarian who fears meat. And you just know this isn’t going to end well . . .
Quaid, you see, has been “experimenting” with all facets of dread, trying to learn all he can to expand his intelligentia. Before Stephen realizes what is going on with the not-so-sane Quaid, he has already exposed his fears to him. But things don’t end quite as Quaid expects as he experiences the ultimate lesson in dread.
Though this story was a slow starter, once it got moving it didn’t let up. Barker usually does an amazing job building dread so this story suits his talent well. It’s a slow build but once you get through the first few dull pages you get a decent payoff.