Travel Reads: “The Damned Busters” by Matthew Hughes

Looking for a fun romp through demonic politics, strange bedfellows and learn how a stubborn actuary threw Hell into a tailspin? Then check out Matthew Hughes’ The Damned Busters!

The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes


Title: The Damned Busters: To Hell and Back, Book 1 (Hell to Pay)
Author: Matthew Hughes
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot
ISBN-10: 0857661035
ISBN-13: 978-0857661036
Available on Amazon in mass market paperback, trade paperback, Kindle and Audiobook editions.

Summary of The Damned Busters

It all starts when an introverted actuary, Chesney Ansthruther, accidentally summons a demon and then refuses to sign the contract for his soul. Would you sign a contract you hadn’t asked for? Well, one thing leads to another and all Hell goes on strike. Satan can’t have that happen, so Chesney gets a once-in-several-lifetimes deal and spawns the most unusual superhero duo ever.

What Worked for Me

Matthew Hughes was great at keeping me smiling (and laughing) while taking me on a unique, wild ride through corporate and supernatural politics, with occasional stops in the outer ring of Hell.

Although each character in the novel can be traced back to an archetypal character or literary cliché — from the hard-boiled detective to the less-than-honest televangelist, Hughes is able to give each individual character his or her own singular voice, making them each rise above the obvious.

Hughes’ strong visual imagery draws you in and keeps you turning the pages. You can almost see the story as a movie playing in your mind … especially when Tom Hanks makes a cameo. Heck, I’d go to the movie just to see that scene!

What Didn’t Work for Me

Honesty, the only thing that didn’t work for me was the ending. In fact, the last paragraph took such a jarring turn, leaving such a gaping question, and was so sudden it deflated the satisfaction I was feeling up until that point. Of course, this was done to make you want to read Book 2, but I would have appreciated some explanation or forewarning.


The Damned Busters is a fun, entertaining and enjoyable journey into supernatural humor … that makes you think, too. There is an underlying theme that explores the nature of good and evil. Hughes’ theory of why the world is the way it is, as presented in this novel, is interesting and mildly disturbing. And for me, that just made the comedy that much more funny.

Score for The Damned Busters: 4 Palm Trees out of 5 Possible

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Read my NY Journal of Books review

Grab your copy on Amazon today.

NOTE: Although I received this book free to review, that did not affect my opinion of the book. Read past reviews of books I’ve received for free and you’ll know I don’t hold my punches.

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About the author

As The Genre Traveler, Carma Spence loves to view the world through Genre-Coloured glasses. In other words, she sees the world through a lens of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, where trash cans can be Daleks in disguise and neighborhood forests can harbor faeries and sprites. Magic realism is real! Or at least you can choose to see the world that way to add to the fun and awe of life.