Tortured Souls: The Legend of Primordium

Tortured Souls: The Legend of Primordium

Illustration By Bob Eggleton

Dust jacket and interior illustrations by Bob Eggleton

Tortured Souls is one of the most vividly imagined, tightly compressed novellas ever written by the incomparable Clive Barker. At once violent and erotic, brutal and strangely beautiful, it takes us into the heart of the legendary “first city” known as Primordium, the site of political upheaval, passionate encounters, and astonishing acts of transformation.

Lurking at the edges of this extravagant tale is the ancient entity known as “Agonistes,” who accepts the pleas of selected “Supplicants,” transforming them, through a combination of art, magic, and pain, into avatars of violence and revenge.

The story begins when a freelance assassin named Zarles Krieger commits a routine murder-for-hire. This act will lead him to two life-altering encounters, one with the daughter of his victim, the other with Agonistes himself. This conjunction of the human and the inhuman stands at the center of this instantly absorbing creation.

With great authority and equally great economy, Tortured Souls expands to become a portrait of Primordium itself, with its hierarchies, its hidden mysteries, its shifting power structure, and—most significantly—its indelible cast of characters. A perfectly controlled example of what Barker calls “the fantastique,” Tortured Souls is something truly special, a story whose imaginative reach and sheer narrative power are evident on every page.

Lettered: 26 signed leatherbound copies, housed in a custom traycase
Limited: 500 signed numbered copies, bound in leather
Trade: Fully cloth bound hardcover edition

From Publishers Weekly (Starred Review):

“Horror legend Barker (Hellraiser) builds a world of corruption, decay, political intrigue, and bile-inducing detail in this tightly constructed novella... Primordium is fully fleshed out with small details, but much is left for readers to wonder (and have nightmares) about…”

From SF Signal:

“…Tortured Souls is a one-sitting read. Even so, it moves along at a very swift pace, wasting little time to turn some unexpected corner and introduce some new perverse monstrosity, all the while driving towards a conclusion that is both satisfying and alluring enough to want to see more stories set in this strange world.”

From October Country:

“The story itself is classic Barker. It involves an ancient, corrupt city known as Primordium; a demonic creature of mysterious origin, the ‘transformer of human flesh’ known as Agonistes; Lucidique, the daughter of a corrupt politician; and Kreiger, the assassin she recruits to help destroy Primordium’s crooked dynasty. These elements (and many more) come together in a short, tightly-woven tale of greed, supernatural forces and violence.”

Bob Eggleton
Clive Barker
88 pages
United States
Out of Print