Unlike other horror fiction and fantasy writers, Clive Barker is true to the literary heritage of the genre. Though aware of the importance of entertainment in his writing, he embraces the traditional formulas of horror fiction and builds upon them, all the while alluding to the works of Dante, Poe, Mary Shelley, and others. The complexity of Barker's writing is best evidenced in the six volumes Books of Blood. Many of these short stories are entertaining "hair raisers"; yet they do not revel in gratuitous violence, instead relying on style and a masterful sense of language to entertain. This detailed study analyzes the significant themes in Barker's writing, placing him in the British Gothic tradition of Marlowe, Saki and others.