Review: The Dirty Streets of Heaven

Posted: June 5, 2013 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Tad Williams, Urban Fantasy

While I will admit that I am not a huge fan of Tad Williams’ work, I have always respected his writing ability. It’s just that his stories never really pulled me in (with the exception of THE WAR OF THE FLOWERS Amazon, which I quite liked). That said, a few years ago I read an Urban Fantasy/Horror short story of his in the anthology THE NEW DEAD (EBR Review). I was completely blown away by the awesomeness of it and thought, “Geez… I really hope we get some Urban Fantasy novels from Tad Williams…”

My wish was granted.

THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN (Amazon) is the first in a series of novels from Tad Williams. It follows Bobby Dollar, an actual angel that serves as an advocate for the souls of the departed. He pleads for their admittance into Heaven while his demonic counterparts work towards a Hellbound journey. It’s a very simple ideas executed wonderfully.

The story starts when Bobby shows up to advocate for the soul of an unimportant individual, and finds that the soul is missing. Suddenly the unimportant soul becomes the most important on everyone’s list–both Heaven’s and Hell’s.

The story is told in First Person as is typical in Urban Fantasy, and it definitely has a distinct Jim Butcher/Harry Dresden vibe to it. Lots of snark and lost of attitude. While I could honestly do with a bit more seriousness in Urban Fantasy, I do appreciate when an author can make me laugh with his PoV character. There are the expected “It’s a Wonderful Life” jokes, and all sorts of well-timed puns. Honestly, Bobby Dollar just ended up being a really fun character to experience the story with.

THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN energizes humor and adventure into life and death and Heaven and Hell in a way that has me extremely excited.

The side characters are a lot less fleshed out, but fine on the whole. Predictably we have the drop-dead-gorgeous minion of Hell, the Countess of Cold Hands. It took most of the novel, but I did come to like her. Bobby hangs out with a group of other angels which, in essence, kinda make up one giant side character–they just don’t become individuals like they should, with three exceptions. Now, I’m leaving most of them vague because if I delve into them too much I’ll end up spoiling some plot points.

The writing is great. The pacing and prose keep everything moving along rapidly from one misadventure to the next. The action is fun, and I loved the interaction that Bobby Dollar has with the hordes of Hell.

So let me circle back around to my Jim Butcher comparison. This novel is a lot like the first two (maybe three) Dresden Files novels. Good, fun novels, but lacking the impact–that “whoa… this is crazy awesome” vibe–that really makes me want to fist-pump in the air. Where Jim Butcher’s novel really started becoming awesome was around books four and five, I think Williams’ Bobby Dollar novels could easily take that step with book two simply because Williams is already a great writer. There is so much potential here for the fun Urban Fantasy series Williams’ really is gunning for. Yeah…I definitely think that the next book is the one that makes the series completely awesome.

THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN is a terrific first book for an Urban Fantasy series. Tad Williams energizes the humor and adventure into life and death and Heaven and Hell in a way that has me extremely excited for the next installment. Williams has completely won me over.

  • Recommended Age: 17+
  • Language: Tons. I can see how it would overly offend some people because it is the angels being profane and sometimes sacrilegious.
  • Violence: Quite a bit, and very well done
  • Sex: One extended, detailed scene followed by some less explicit ones

Grab this book. It is worth it to anyone who likes Urban Fantasy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *