Book Review: Hellbound by Tim Hawken

Goodreads Synopsis
“You look very confused when I say I’m just trying to help these lost souls make their way to Heaven,” he said. “The reason you’re confused is that you think I’m speaking metaphorically. Well, my dear friend, take it very literally. You see, I may have introduced myself as Asmodeus, but let me run off a few of my more well known aliases. Now, let’s see, we have Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Bafomet, Iblis, The Fallen One, Lucifer, The Morning Star, Lord of the Dark, The Devil, oh and my favorite; Satan.” 
Face to face with Satan, Michael has awoken in the bowels of Hell with no memory of who he is, or why he has been damned. Hell, however, isn’t what he expected. Rather than the fires of torment, he finds a hedonistic city of gambling, sex, murder and revenge. With the Devil as his guide, Michael embarks on a quest of self-discovery and self redemption. But will he get a second chance at salvation? And why is Satan helping him? 
Hellbound is a contemporary view of Hell, exploring today’s idea of sin and religion, through witty dialogue and bursts of descriptive prose. Dark, funny and philosophical.
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Disclosure: My copy was offered by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Now… why did I wait so much time to read this novel? I read it in two sittings, which says a lot about how much a liked it. I think I should turn this into a criterion after which I rate my reads – how many times I had to pick up the book until I finished it. If I read it in one or two sittings, then it deserves a 5-compasses review. More than three sittings… oh well. It might get difficult with books that have more than 400 pages.

Back to Hellbound! I liked it way more than I expected to like it. By the end of it, I realized I liked it more than I had expected to like it after going through the first half. It was just getting better, and I loved how everything was wrapped up. Let me try to explain. First of all, Tim Hawken showed a lot of imagination and creativity in building his vision of Hell. I must admit I was a bit concerned at first that Hell would end up drowned in clichés, but it didn’t happen. I liked the author’s idea of Heaven, Hell, and the Creation. The fact that Hell is a place destined to the rehabilitation of corrupted souls was interesting and unique. The “system” the author imagined made every bit of sense, and I liked that my questions about it were answered in the end. The Devil’s city is the perfect image of fun, sin, debauchery, and total freedom to do as one pleases. It’s not a surprise that many souls fall even deeper into sin, surrender to it, and become demons. However, the Devil has a weapon that helps him make sure Hell doesn’t become overcrowded: The Guilt. Every hour, the souls are torn apart by their guilt, and are forced to remember the terrible things they did on Earth. This torture makes them regret their sins, obtain forgiveness, and eventually go to Heaven.

The main character is Michael, an ex-fighter who ends up in Hell after being killed by a God fanatic. But I can’t say I liked Michael that much. Actually, my favorite character was the Devil. That may be because I’m always curious to see how authors depict the Devil, and I was glad to see that Tim Hawken made him a fun, witty, and tricky character. He helps Michael get revenge, but, of course, he has his own agenda. It was great to follow this character and try to guess what he really wanted. I mean, yes, he obviously wanted to find out God’s secret and throw him off his throne (he even said so), but I could feel there was more than that.

I usually take notes when I read a book and a certain thing draws my attention. For instance, in the second half of the book I was annoyed that the Devil was contradicting himself. One moment he says that he hates God for trapping him in Hell and that God created humans for his own amusement, and the next he says that God is love, and His love and forgiveness are what truly make life on Earth matter. I mean… what?! Bipolar much? Oh yes, and he had a good reason for it! This is one of the things I loved most about this book: every detail made sense, even those that didn’t at first.

I can’t wait to read the next books in the trilogy. I hope they are at least as good as the first one. If I didn’t know what to expect from Hellbound, now I sure know what to expect from I Am Satan and Deicide.




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