Because what would Thanksgiving be without devouring a few corpses?

In a village in rural England, a capstone from long-fallow ground is removed and Rawhead Rex emerges. He walks nine feet high, with hands thrice the size of a human’s, and is ravenously hungry for children. He comes from a time that predates Christianity, so none of the typical religious symbols harm him. He appears to have a hypnotic influence over the more patriarchal figures of society, and his only seeming weakness is a reluctance to kill menstruating women.

Given Barker’s reputation, it is unlikely to be surprising that Rawhead Rex’s many attacks are described in graphic detail, or that bodily fluids and excretions are plentiful. Unlike many of his imitators, these are handled well; each attack has a different structure and with different props (such as a church, car, through a stable and multiple rooms of a house) and the viscera never become monotonous.

The characters are quickly and deftly drawn. I like the opening few pages of how the village’s population is replaced over the decades by London commuters, creating a suitably doomed atmosphere as well as justifying why somebody digs up the capstone, trying to plough a field that has been deliberately kept unused for centuries. And I really like the design of Rawhead Rex. Not only is he reminiscent of a grotesque parody of masculinity, but he is intelligent; early on he finds that when he tears metal boxes apart they bleed flammable blood. So when the village is readying itself to find the creature, it means Rawhead Rex is able to attack them from a completely unexpected angle.

Rawhead Rex by Clive Barker

Availability: Print, e-book as part of anthology

Word count: 18,800

First published: Clive Barker’s Books of Blood: Volume 3, collection, 1984, Sphere

Where to find it: Clive Barker’s Books of Blood: Volumes 1-3, collection, 1999, Little, Brown

The Mammoth Book of Monsters, edited by Stephen Jones, 2007, Carroll & Graf

Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters, edited by Paul Trembley & John Langan, 2011, Prime Books (e-book available from Weightless Books here)

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