A book for young readers set in the underworld. Yeah, that underworld. If you think that's a dicey premise, I promise you'll be surprised once you dive in. Amid all the adventures, scares and laughs, the themes of decency, humanity and caring abound.
Here's a review from School Library Journal for Down In Flames - but it's really about both stories:
"Hell has never been so appealing. This engaging sequel catches up with Donny Taylor (mere teenage mortal) and Angela Obscura (archdemon of the underworld) as they slay beasts, fight fantastic creatures, and order takeout. Catanese reprises the memorably dry, witty tone from Donny’s Inferno. Riffing on the classic mythos of hell handed down by Dante, the first book revealed reforms of hell that, among other things, extinguished the infamous “Pit of Fire.” ...As they are assigned increasingly lethal missions that could kill Donny but will leave Angela unscathed, he begins to question why she insists he put himself in danger when she has no need of mortal help. Angela continues to dodge this all-important question, downplaying Donny’s terror at every turn, as they embark on their latest task: tracking a mysterious beast and discovering why souls are mysteriously disappearing from Sulphur. VERDICT: A satisfying sequel sure to please readers of the first book, in a series that appeals to fans of the tones struck by Rachel Renée Russell and Rick Riordan." - School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews praises the series too:
“Worldbuilding continues to be impressive…fast-paced action… another suspenseful read…a series that promises continued terror and delight” - Kirkus Reviews
DONNY'S INFERNO / It's a whole new underworld. A boy on the run is rescued from a burning building by a bewitching, bewildering supernatural being named Angela Obscura. She takes Donny to the underworld (yes, that underworld!) where young Donny Taylor learns that a heck of a transformation has taken place down there. But soon, Donny must help Angela ward off the enemies who want to restore the underworld to its old, terrible ways. Available in hardcover and e-book. Paperback in April 2017.
DONNY'S INFERNO: DOWN IN FLAMES / The adventures continue in a story that's even bigger, better and funnier than the first. Souls have gone missing, and it's Angela's job to find out who's taking them and why. Meanwhile Donny's job is to try to survive as the capers grow more dangerous by the day. Will this unlikely pair stick together, or will it all go down in flames? Available in hardcover and e-book in April 2017. Paperback in April 2018.
You may be wondering, wasn't this going to be called something else?
If you've been following me on Facebook or Twitter for a while, then you know that this book was originally titled Sulfur. Why the change? Interesting story.
The hero's name, Donny Taylor, was a kind of Easter egg for this book: a very subtle reference to a very old story. Think of the idea of a boy getting to see the underworld... and then look at the first syllable of his first and last name.
Get it? Donny Taylor? Don Taylor? Don Tay... Dante!! This was an allusion to the classic Dante's Inferno. My plan was to just put that in the book, and keep my mouth shut, and see if any reader ever noticed the nod to Dante. (I wonder if anyone would have? I think I would have sent a free book or something to the first person!) But I mentioned this hidden bit to my editor, and aside from thinking it was a cool idea, she also suggested that Donny's Inferno would be a better title for the book. This was around the time that my publisher in general was thinking that the title could be improved.
Like any prideful author, I was unsure about the title change at first. But the more I think about it the more I love it. In fact it's perfect. The 'hook' of the story is right there in the title now. Thanks, editor!
And that's how a subtle inside joke within the story turned into the title of the story.
What else can I tell you about the story?
Donny's Inferno is different than what I’ve written before, but with many of the ingredients my readers enjoy: Thrills, scares, vivid settings, strange creatures, and some thoughtfulness lurking beneath all the action.
So what’s the difference? It's by far the most comedic of my books. And it takes place here and now, instead of a fanciful medieval fairy-tale world. If you know what ‘urban fantasy’ is – Donny's Inferno is that, at least in part. It bounces between the world's greatest cities, to an underworld as it's never been imagined before. Manhattan, Florence, San Francisco, Cyprus, the hidden folds of the Himalayas... you never know where this series will take you next!
If you like the books of P.W. Catanese, tell a friend! The author will be forever grateful.