The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes – Review [Bane of Kings]

Bane of Kings reviews The Damned Busters, published by Angry Robot and written by Matthew Hughes.

(Note, there may be minor spoilers in this novel, although nothing that should give away what happens in the overall plot.)

I’m not normally a fan of comic-book cover art and indeed the main reasons why I requested a review copy from Angry Robot Publishers was because of the blurb. I mean, just take a look at it for yourself:

After accidentally summoning a demon while playing poker, the normally mild-mannered Chesney Anstruther refuses to sell his soul… which leads through various confusions to, well, Hell going on strike. Which means that nothing bad ever happens in the world – and that actually turns out to be a really bad thing.
There’s only one thing for it. Satan offers Chesney the ultimate deal – sign the damned contract, and he can have his heart’s desire. And thus the strangest superhero duo ever seen – in Hell or on Earth – is born!

Book one of the To Hell & Back saga is a riotous fantasy from the acclaimed author of the Henghis Hapthorn stories.

Due to the lazy part in me coming through, I’ve decided to borrow it from Angry Robot’s website, here. If that hasn’t swayed you, check out the sample extract at the bottom of the page.

I was enjoying The Damned Busters from the first page. Having not read anything from Matthew Hughes before, the fact that it was from Angry Robot was good enough for me. I mean, I still haven’t read a book by them that I haven’t disliked, and The Damned Busters wasn’t a letdown.

Again, it’s the first novel in the To Hell & Back Saga, and you can now count me a fan of this remarkable duo of Chesney and the demon in his service, who actually turns out to have an addiction for alcohol.  

Which is surprisingly helpful when it comes to Chesney’s point of view, anyway. Told in third person, The Damned Busters was an amusing novel that in some places had me laughing out loud.

If it’s the humour that drags you in, the excellent descriptive work that the author pulls off will keep you there. Indeed, The Damned Busters is also pretty original as well – and it really does beg the question that I’m sure several of you probably don’t have on their minds right now: What would happen if hell did suddenly go on strike?

You find out over the course of this wonderful novel, which frankly – I really enjoyed. Romance is thrown in alongside the many themes that this novel has, although a bit off-track at first, this book is still brilliant otherwise.

The Damned Busters also shares one feature in common with Vegas Knights, a novel which was written by Matt Forbeck. (See the review here ), in the fact that they both have a game of cards in. In this case, The Damned Busters uses Poker, which I’ve sadly never had the chance to play, but I can tell you this – it is very enjoyable.

The novel itself raises some interesting questions about sinning and our reactions to it, which, having said that – makes it even more of a good read.

Having not been a big fan of urban fantasy outside the Angry Robot range, I can tell you that The Damned Busters really is one of the better novels in this genre (Alongside Vegas Knights, and Hard Spell if that counts), and should defiantly not be missed.

And, if you’re picky about originality, I’ll say that The Damned Busters is a novel that really is, unlike anything I’ve read before. Indeed, I’m now tempted to pick up the Henghis Hapthorn stories, purely because they’re written by Matthew Hughes.

So in short, if it’s by Hughes or published Angry Robot, (or both), buy the novel. You will not regret your purchase, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next part in the saga.

Indeed, you’re missing out if you haven’t bought this book yet. Pure and simple.

Rating: 9.75/10, New Rating Scale: 4.5/5

David Ploss

I’m a bit of an awesome person. :) I’m a semi-famous 40k Intellect and the Business Manager of Chique Geek Entertainment, LLC. I’m a book reviewer and the owner of Beware my wonky-ness…


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