BOOK REVIEW: SLEEPING LATE ON JUDGEMENT DAY / AUTHOR: TAD WILLIAMS / PUBLISHER: HODDER PAPERBACKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The angel Doloriel, known on Earth as Bobby Dollar, is not having a good time of late. After falling in love with the demon Caz, he endured Hell itself to rescue her, only to be betrayed by an Infernal Archduke who now holds Caz prisoner. Back on Earth and not knowing how to carry on with his life, Bobby finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy that appears to threaten the very existence of Heaven itself.
Sleeping Late on Judgement Day is the third of Tad Williams’s Bobby Dollar novels, continuing from The Dirty Streets of Heaven and Happy Hour in Hell. By now, anyone who's read the first two will be eager to find out what happens next, and it isn't good - for Bobby, that is. For his readers, Williams has delivered another treat, populating our own world with angels, demons and bizarre creatures that are something in between. From villain to bit-player, his characters are entirely three-dimensional, his hero realistically flawed and damaged by bitter experience. Williams is an author who is not afraid to put his characters through the wringer, and his book is no exception; at times, it's hard not to think he's maybe gone too far.
This, fortunately, is something Williams is incredibly adept at, and he uses that talent to draw emotions from his readers without them feeling cheated or manipulated. He also delivers a story that is a startling combination of modern noir, urban fantasy and horror, along with some philosophy on religion and the nature of love; while the previous book was about the lengths a man will go to for his beloved, this one is about how he has to try and continue without her. There's laughter, sadness, joy and regret within these pages, and not often from expected sources.
In all three Bobby Dollar novels, Williams starts with his hero in trouble, then goes back to tell the tale of how he got there. It's a narrative device that's very much in vogue at the moment, yet feels very unnecessary here. For a big event, there's a strange lack of jeopardy this time around, which is a shame as there are genuine moments in the book where Bobby’s fate hangs in the balance. There's also a lot of introspection that, while necessary, does sometimes bring everything to a halt rather than just slow it down. Bobby’s narration is as wry as ever, although his familiarity with all things demonic can reduce the terror felt during the book’s more horrific moments.
All in all, Williams hasn't let down any of his fans. He's given the trilogy the bitter-sweet ending it deserves, while still ensuring there are enough plot threads dangling for any future adventures. There's plenty of scope for Bobby Dollar to return, and we hope to read more about him in the future.