Set in the 1850s in London, England, Daniel O'Thunder interweaves the voices of several narrators to tell the story of a troubled but charismatic prize-fighting evangelist who challenges none other than the Devil to a battle in the ring.
A former pugilist with a right fist known as "The Hammer of Heaven," O'Thunder disappeared for years before resurfacing as a crusading street preacher. He pursues a life in Christ, serving those in need, whether they be poor, homeless or in need of guidance. But on London's dark streets, an evil presence is wreaking havoc and throwing into peril the lives of O'Thunder's most vulnerable souls.
The novel inhabits the world of the theatre, the criminal underworld and the world of bare-knuckle prizefighting, then shifts to the wild west of North America, where O'Thunder meets his ultimate opponent in the desert of the B.C. Interior.
"A terrific, fast-moving narrative."
"A frightening, funny, moving, page-turning romp."
"Laced with blood thunder, sex, murder, rape, mayhem and miracles, Ian Wier's first novel is about good versus evil...from the outset, even if we haven't read the authors biography we know we are in skilled hands."
"Weir's plot steps smartly, and the language crackles with the immediacy of shifting first-person voices...There are murders, rapes, hangings, prizefights, a city-wide riot, and lots of thrilling escapes...By the time the novel reaches its dramatic conclusion...the story has landed in a place somewhere between dementia and the supernatural. All of which makes for an historical novel that is a lot more fun and thrilling than what we have come to expect."
"Charles Dickens meets Tom Jones...A knockout debut.
"If one unreliable narrator is enough to skew a book toward the fantastical, imagine the twists generated by four! In his first novel, veteran screenwriter Ian Weir calls on a quartet of witnesses to deliver the story of godly pug Daniel O'Thunder, proud son of Cork turned evangelical sermonizer, and it's a sign of his sure command that all are engaging, even when spinning bald-faced lies or subtle prevarications...This is wonderful stuff."
"The battle between the great Hammer of Heaven and the evil stalking him climaxes in a fight that will leave readers breathless. This robust historical novel by an award-winning Canadian screenwriter will captivate fans of Sarah Waters and Charles Dickens."
"In this delicious jumble of a novel, Weir has created an epic hero...Drenched in filthy Thames waters and coiffed in muttonchops, Weir's outlandish tale is a top-shelf page-turner."
"I haven't a enjoyed a novel so much since Benioff's City of Thieves."
"Ambitious in scope and structure, the book speaks in pitch-perfect Victorian diction through a wide range of characters to relate the ultimate-stakes quarrel between the pugilist preacher Daniel O'Thunder and his ultimate adversary: The Devil Himself."
"'Dickensian' is an adjective too often misused in describing books set in Victorian England. It is, however, the perfect word for this superb novel, nominated for the Commonwealth Prize. Weir, an award-winning screenwriter and playwright, takes us right to the centre of London in 1815 with as brilliantly constructed a band of reprobates as Dickens ever saw. Marvellous from the first paragraph."