Abarat: The Abarat Trilogy, Book 1



Travelogue of the weird for kid fantasy fans.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Fantasy violence, but some quite bloody. References to Candy being abused by her father. Not really, but Barker's imagination leans to the grotesque. Candy is often in danger.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drunkenness.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that those with a taste for the creepy and bizarre this is a romp. For sensitive children, there's plenty here to induce nightmares. Either way, you may want to read and discuss the strange occurrences here together.

What's the story?

Clive Barker's second book for young adults and the first of a proposed series is Alice in Wonderland for the new millennium. Like Carroll's heroine, Candy Quackenbush finds herself following a strange creature into a stranger world though, this being the 21st century, she is escaping a drunken and abusive father in a town devoted to butchering chickens, rather than just a dull afternoon, and instead of a tea party on land she finds a poker game floating in the sea.

She soon discovers that this land is the Abarat, a chain of 25 islands, each existing in a different unchanging hour of the day (and one mysterious extra island), inhabited by a multiplicity of strange creatures, from John Mischief, who has seven brothers growing out of his horns, to Christopher Carrion, who wears a high translucent collar filled with nightmares swimming in blue fluid.

Is it any good?


The plot is mainly an excuse for an excursion through the fertile, bizarre, and gruesome imagination of author Clive Barker. This first book suggests an author obsessed: In addition to more than 400 pages of text (including a 25-page appendix), Barker has created over 100 vividly colorful illustrations. When the book first came out there was a free poster map of the world, and there is an interactive version on the Web site (www.harperchildren.com/), though why they didn't print the map on the endpapers is a mystery in an otherwise gorgeous and lavishly produced book.

This appeals to children who like to be fascinated, rather than emotionally invested. Though the story lacks the heart tight plotting of the best children's books, children with a taste for the wild and grotesque will by enthralled by this travelogue of the weird.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the thin plot. Is the descriptive adventure satisfying, or do you prefer stories with tighter plots? What would you hope to see in subsequent books in this series?

Book details

Author:Clive Barker
Illustrator:Clive Barker
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:February 15, 2004
Number of pages:414

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Teen, 14 years old Written bynoveleater October 20, 2011

Alice in Wonderland meets Clive Barker's barking mad brain.

Abarat is a one-of-a-kind fantasy start that begins with flawless writing. This author has style, and doesn't feel the need to flaunt his writing with big words or challenging text, in fact, he illustrates the books with beautiful, strange oil paintings, more than fifty that help illustrate the strange but magical taste of his new world he designed. The only down fall, and trust me, the ONLY, is the pacing needs to be worked on. The pacing is slow at times, even at the exciting bits, otherwise, this book is pith-perfect. I love the characters that are dynamic and original. The story tells of a girl named Candy Quackenbush who has a acholic father who lives in Cickentown a boring place in the u.s. She then finds herself in Abarat, a whole new world where strange things are a foot. A darkness that plans to take over Abarat. Candy must save Abarat. The violence includes Candy's father who pushes her and swears at her. Also people fight each other, and a character beats his slave. Candy is in peril all through the book, even in her school and her home. Barker has a crazy mind, but proves to be creative, which is cool to see. I loved this book, and I'v already picked up the sequel from the library. I loved it! I can't wait to read the sequel. I recommend it for people who are fans of fantasy, or just for people who love books. Its awesome!
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Adult Written byTeamPTSA April 9, 2008

Fantastic imagery

Humble beginnings offer the wildest possibilities. Wonderfully described, believable, true-to-life characters, some of them outrageously fictitious, make choices true to the story. Good guys surprise you by demonstrating maturity, honesty, loyalty and sacrifice. Bad guys fall prey to their character flaws. I read this with my daughters (10 and 12)and we all loved it. We eagerly await number three.
Parent Written byKairiblue November 15, 2015

A wonderful colourful adventure.

I myself love this series and recently let my 10yr old daughter start the first book as she was growing bored of her selection. She loves it also, it's a wild adventure with loveable characters, amazingly descriptive lands that make you feel at home. It is slightly macabre, Clive Barker definitely has a certain style, yet this book is pure fantasy. I'm on the 3rd book at the moment and when I think of Abarat I imagine great friendships and adventure.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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