Film's most popular action hero needs a place to heal after surgery that has gone terribly wrong. His fiercely loyal agent finds him just such a place in a luxurious, forgotten mansion high in the Hollywood Hills. But the original owner of the mansion was a beautiful woman devoted to pleasure at any cost, and the terrible legacy of her deed has not yet died. There are ghosts and monsters haunting Coldheart Canyon, where nothing is forbidden.
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October 31, 2002
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Excerpt from Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker
It is night in Coldheart Canyon, and the wind comes off the desert.
The Santa Anas, they call these winds. They blow off the Mojave, bringing malaise, and the threat of fire. Some say they are named after Saint Anne, the mother of Mary, others that they are named after one General Santa Ana, of the Mexican cavalry, a great creator of dusts; others still that the name is derived from santanta, which means Devil Wind.
Whatever the truth of the matter, this much is certain: the Santa Anas are always baking hot, and often so heavily laden with perfume that it's as though they've picked up the scent of every blossom they've shaken on their way here. Every wild lilac and wild rose, every white sage and rank jimsonweed, every heliotrope and creosote bush: gathered them all up in their hot embrace and borne them into the hidden channel of Coldheart Canyon.
There's no lack of blossoms here, of course. Indeed, the Canyon is almost uncannily verdant. Some of the plants here were brought in from the world outside by these same burning winds, these Santa Anas; others were dropped in the feces of the wild animals who wander through -- the deer and coyote and raccoon; some spread from the gardens of the great dream palace that lays solitary claim to this corner of Hollywood. Alien blooms, this last kind -- orchids and lotus flowers -- nurtured by gardeners who have long since left off their pruning and their watering, and departed, allowing the bowers which they once treasured to run riot.
But for some reason there is always a certain bitterness in the blooms here. Even the hungry deer, driven from their traditional trails these days by the presence of sightseers who have come to see Tinseltown, do not linger in the Canyon for very long. Though the deer venture along the ridge and down the steep slopes of the Canyon, and curiosity, especially among the younger animals, often leads them over the rotted fences and toppled walls into the secret enclaves of the gardens, they seldom choose to stay there for very long.
Perhaps it isn't just that the leaves and petals are bitter. Perhaps there are too many whisperings in the air around the ruined gazebos, and the animals are unnerved by what they hear. Perhaps there are too many presences brushing against their trembling flanks as they explore the clotted pathways. Perhaps, as they graze the overgrown lawns, they look up and mistake a statue for a pale fragment of life, and are startled by their error, and take flight.