Happy Hour In Hell (Book 2 in the Bobby Dollar trilogy) by Tad Williams (book review).

Tad Williams’ book, ‘Happy Hour In Hell’, is not for the faint-hearted. It is all about a guy called Bobby Dollar, who has fallen in love with a woman named Caz. So far so good.


Problem is, he is really a low-level angel called Doloriel and she is a high-level demon named Cazimira. Her boyfriend is Eligor, the Grand Duke of Hell! When Eligor found out about Caz and Bobby, he was very angry. Caz decided to save Bobby’s life and presumably his immortal soul by breaking off their relationship and returning to the depths of Hell with Eligor.

I wasn’t joking when I said that Bobby had actually fallen in love with Caz. After spending several weeks pining for her, Bobby decides to go into Hell and ‘rescue’ Cazimira. A very noble sentiment, but not a very realistic one, which hasn’t stopped Williams penning this rather strange story. Bobby begins to ask around the more useful of his contacts on Earth for information on how to actually get into Hell. This is when he finds out about the Neronian Bridge. I don’t know how long Bobby has been around or Doloriel for that matter, but Caz has been around since Columbus, which is an awfully long time.

The journey begins with Bobby walking across the Neronian Bridge into Hell, a very narrow stone bridge that seems impossible long and over a very deep chasm. This is a special but forgotten entrance, built especially for one person, the Emperor Nero. Yes, that was back in Roman times. Bobby is now inhabiting a demon body, to better blend in and survive the heat, while his own human shell is back on Earth hidden away from prying eyes, such as demons that want to kill him and angels wanting to know why he is even attempting such a journey into enemy territory. His demon cover name is Snakestaff, a name he will change once he gets onto Eligor’s level and closer to Caz.

This is when the fun part starts, trying to get close to the reason for his visit. Snakestaff has arrived on the Abaddon level, somewhere in the upper middle area of Hell. Each level of Hell is the roof of the level below it. There are hidden tunnels and rivers though most of the traffic up and down is done on foot, via lifters, a rickety gothic, metal elevator carriage. This is a great cylinder that cuts through all of the layers, going up and coming down. Caz will be on the uppermost level in Hell’s version of Park Avenue called Pandemonium, that locals call the Red City. Bobby does not, his first mistake, which sends him down to one of the lower inferno levels and a serious beating before he manages to escape and travel through one of the hidden tunnels back to the Abaddon level and on up to the Red City and Eligor’s palace.

Caz broke off the relationship with Bobby and went back to Hell with Eligor for a very good reason. One which Bobby doesn’t realise or is just refusing to see. Caz now had two minders that keep an eye on her for Eligor, yet it is the getting out again that will be the real problem. You will have to read this book to find out how he does this.

The story also raise the rather interesting moral issue of whether a person’s crime was so terrible that they should be tortured in Hell for all eternity without respite or release ? As this volume is mostly about Bobby’s journey thru the different layers of Hell and the people and places he sees on his journey we don’t really see much of Heaven.

I found Williams’ writing style to be very lively and the story flows along. It keeps you hooked right from the beginning. What you might call a Gothic love story. The story is a lot more complicated than this sounds, because there are many other strands running that start here and will continue into book three, ‘Sleeping Late On Judgement Day’, this is what makes the story multi-layered and fascinating. A page-turning story that I found very difficult to put down.

Jill Roberts

January 2015

(pub: Hodder & Stoughton. 404 page hardback. Price: £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-444-73860-5

pub: Hodder & Stoughton. 404 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-444-73862-9)

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