Satirical and snarky, the book is thorough and borders on exhaustive. Written as if hell were a real and true place, it is the best guidebook to a horror that no one hopes ever to experience ... It seems that the entirety of Hell and Damnation may be a not-so-slight jab at everyone who believes hell to be a real and actual place, giving obsessive detail to a mythical abyss.
With its droll title and effulgent gold and red with a pentagrammed smirking demon, this is, in fact, a good book to judge by its cover ... readers will already discern where, aside from abysses, this book is headed: someplace unexpectedly fun ... This information is relayed in a hilariously dry tone, making for the perfect juxtaposition of knowledge and humor ... The one aspect of hell and the devil that this otherwise far-reaching book leaves out is, for me, the most contemporarily significant: hell as a metaphor—and often as a corrective symbol of empowerment, not evil ... The joy of this book may be in De Villiers's depictions of hells, which, for anyone not worried about actually going there, seem less like warnings and more like celebrations of the human imagination.
Novelist de Villiers...eloquently discusses a number of questions about hell in this fun book ... the book delights with its affecting discussion of issues that prefigure questions of punishment in the afterlife ... de Villiers details the long, strange history of how hell has been imagined in this delightful book.