Book Review: The Book of Doom by Barry Hutchison

The Book of DoomThe Book of Doom
An Afterworlds Book
Barry Hutchison
HarperCollins Children’s Books, February 2013
ISBN: 978-0-00-744091-7 (UK edition)
Trade Paperback
Also available in the US in Ebook format

Zac Corgan has been selected for a mission of the utmost importance. The Book of Everything, or certainly, The Book of Doom as they call it, has gone missing. But no one is quite sure when it disappeared, or who took it, or whether it’s just been mislaid. Can Zac find the book and make it out of Hell alive?

This is Hutchison’s second Afterworlds book and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. This time around, The Book of Everything has gone missing from Heaven but no one is quite sure exactly when it disappeared. This particular book also looks different to every person so while it might look like a concrete gargoyle to me, it could look like a puppy to someone else. Zac has been selected because he has a knack of ‘locating’ certain items for certain clients and his talents brings him to the attention of the decidedly false (with a definite sprinkling of sinister) archangel Gabriel, not to mention Michael, oh he of the volatile temper. There’s just one thing though, to get into Heaven, you technically have to be dead, which is exactly what happens to Zac when he runs into one innocent little monk. Quickly lumbered with the weedy and needy Angelo, the half angel, half…..well, we won’t go into that right now, Zac is forced to have Angelo as his guide, no matter how much Zac wants to work alone.

Hutchison is a master at witty and thrilling storylines that will have you chuckling with laughter and cheering for the characters as they end up in the most surreal situations. Again, as with The 13th Horseman, the characters are strong, funny and certainly relatable for any younger reader. You have the maverick loner with a past who doesn’t need anyone else, the shy geek who’s desperate for friendship and of course, the bluffer who implies knowledge with more bravado than conviction. These are all people we have known or still know and they are as familiar as rain in an Irish summer. So it’s easy to love them, and root for them and laugh with them as you would your own friends and I’m sure this is part of Hutchison’s appeal. Add in a really good plot and the Metatron (who will always sound like Alan Rickman) and you’re onto a winner. While this book didn’t have as many laugh out loud moments as The 13th Horseman, quite frankly, it didn’t matter. And when you think of it, finding the Book of Everything is serious business; it’s no laughing matter because you certainly wouldn’t want to get on Michael’s bad side; he’s a man with a flaming sword for goodness sake! Whatever Hutchison’s secret is, I hope he keeps using it to write more books as I will certainly keep buying them. Read it and you’ll never look at a bare chest the same way again…

Reviewed by Laura McLaughlin, May 2013.