If you’re a long-time reader of my blog you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Barry Hutchison, from his creepy Invisible Fiends series to his short stories and his Afterworlds series. The first book in the Afterworlds series has just won the Older Readers category in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards (which is voted for by children so it’s a wonderful award to receive). He’s one of those incredibly talented authors who can creep you out one moment and have you laughing out loud the next. Barry’s latest book, The Book of Doom, is packed with those laugh-out-loud moments, and plenty of cringe-worthy ones too. The thing that makes the book even more awesome for me is that the main character is named after me (I can’t tell you how excited I am about this!). When you read your name on the page it’s even easier to imagine yourself in that character’s shoes and go on the adventure that they do.
Heaven has lost the most important object in existence and getting it back is gonna be Hell … The second hilarious book in Barry’s AFTERWORLDS sequence – comic fantasy perfect for fans of Pratchett and Douglas Adams. There’s panic up in Heaven. They have mislaid the BOOK OF DOOM – the most important object in existence. Oopsy. They think Satan might have stolen it, the sneaky little devil, so to save the world – plus, you know, quite a lot of embarrassment, fifteen year old Adam and his angelic guide Angelo are sent to retrieve it. Sadly directions aren’t Angelo’s strong point and they soon find themselves just as lost as the book, wandering through Afterworlds such as Valhalla and Hades and encountering some colourful characters along the way… Can the hapless pair make it to Hell and back?
The Book of Doom is absolutely fantastic and it’s the funniest book I’ve read for older readers since Barry’s The 13th Horseman. There’s something in this book for everyone, including an assassin monk, archangels involved in dodgy dealings, a boy who’s half-human/half angel, a demon with a statue made from the skin of his enemy’s children, singing and dancing Vikings, and a demon wearing roller skates and hot pants. There are also four familiar gentlemen who pop up at one part (I really can’t get enough of these guys and I hope we see them again). There are plenty of pop culture references in the story that you’ll be able to spot too, from super heroes to Star Wars. I loved how disappointed Angelo would get when someone didn’t get his reference to a comic or a movie.
Barry’s characters are wonderful as always. Zac is very cool and I’m honoured to be his namesake. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a thief who gets sent to Hell to retrieve a very important book. He’s not fazed by much, even when faced with a demon who has eyes for nipples. Angelo is one of Barry’s funniest characters and he gets all the best lines. I cracked up laughing when he says ‘Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.’ He’s awkward, and a little bit clueless, but quite lovable too.
The banter between Barry’s characters was the highlight of Book of Doom for me. The banter between Angelo and Zac made me laugh out loud so many times and my favourite part is when they finally reach the gates of Hell. It’s the sort of book that you really want to read aloud because it would be even funnier to hear someone reading it.
The last few chapters of the book are especially hilarious and I loved the twist (which totally made sense when I looked back on the story). The Book of Doom will keep you laughing long after you’ve turned the last page.
5 out of 5 stars