Review: Tad Williams goes to dark, creepy and awesome places in ‘Happy Hour in Hell’

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Bobby Dollar is back! Tad Williams released his second book in this series today, Happy Hour in Hell. This time the earthly angel advocate isn’t just trying to save his own behind while trying to figure out a mystery … well, he sort of is. But this time he also heads down into the depths of Hell itself to save his demon girlfriend Caz from the clutches of her evil ex and hell lord. This book is packed with the same humor, creep-factor, and internal morality that readers enjoyed in book one, but even more so in book two.

What’s it about? Here’s the summary from amazon, in Bobby’s own words:

happy hour in hellI’ve been told to go to Hell more times than I can count. But this time I’m
actually going.

My name’s Bobby Dollar, sometimes known as Doloriel,
and of course, Hell isn’t a great place for someone like me—I’m an angel. They
don’t like my kind down there, not even the slightly fallen variety. But they
have my girlfriend, who happens to be a beautiful demon named Casimira, Countess
of Cold Hands. Why does an angel have a demon girlfriend? Well, certainly not
because it helps my career.

She’s being held hostage by one of the
nastiest, most powerful demons in all of the netherworld—Eligor, Grand Duke of
Hell. He already hates me, and he’d like nothing better than to get his hands on
me and rip my immortal soul right out of my borrowed but oh-so-mortal
body.

But wait, it gets better! Not only do I have to sneak into Hell,
make my way across thousands of miles of terror and suffering to reach Pan-
demonium, capital of the fiery depths, but then I have to steal Caz right out
from under Eligor’s burning eyes and smuggle her out again, past demon soldiers,
hellhounds, and all the murderous creatures imprisoned there for eternity. And
even if I somehow manage to escape Hell, I’m also being stalked by an undead
psychopath named Smyler who’s been following me for weeks. Oh, and did I mention
that he can’t be killed?

So if I somehow survive Hell, elude the Grand
Duke and all his hideous minions and make it back to the real world, I’ll still
be the most hunted soul in Creation. But at least I’ll have Caz. Gotta have
something to look forward to, right?

So just pour me that damn drink,
will you? I’ve got somewhere to go.

Tad’s first book in this series, The Dirty Streets of Heaven, laid a great foundation for book two. But whereas book one had more detective elements, book two has a more classic “hero takes a journey” element, which I adore. Yes, he still has some mysterious things happening (including figuring out why an impossible-to-kill man/creature is after him), but for me the road through hell to rescue Caz, and all the experiences and questions that came with it, was the highlight of the book.

I also love how Tad bends the expected black and white nature of heaven and hell. Nothing in these books is absolute. There are some pretty decent people stuck in hell, and this begs the question, do they really deserve to suffer for all of eternity? Tad started blurring these lines in book one when a non-trustable demon and an angel of heaven came together, and these questions continue to be raised in the second book, but on a much bigger scale. Without giving too much away, I was surprised at how much this escalated, and it made me think, which for me is a sign of a good book.

Let’s not forget  the creeptastic-ness that is Happy Hour in Hell. Tad throws some intense and graphic stuff at the readers on occasion, but for me it made things feel more real, even in the unfamiliar elements of hell. I think he nails it, really takes the reader to a dark, gritty, sad place.

Fans of book one will definitely enjoy revisiting this world and these characters, and Tad delivers them in a most wonderful fashion in a way that only a Bobby Dollar book can do. Plus, there’s the whole creepy Hell thing. It’s kind of awesome.

Happy Hour in Hell comes out today, Tuesday September 3rd, 2013.

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