As with the third book, Hellzapoppin' boldly sidelines the central trio from the earlier novels, including the titular Clovenhoof himself, to allow focus on a new group of characters.
This 'new' group are the Welsh island-dwelling monks of St Cadfan's who appeared in Pigeonwings, and also the demon Rutspud who was introduced in Satan's Shorts. A few other familiar faces appear briefly, such as mischievous schoolboy Spartacus Wilson.
The plot focusses on a staircase between St Cadfan's and Hell, allowing monk Stephen and demon Rutspud to form an unlikely friendship, whilst they each have their own mysteries to solve.
As ever, Goody and Grant's trademark Pratchett-style humour is correct and present with vast amounts of theological material to play with. The decision to explore Hell was a good choice, considering the series has already visited Heaven, and allows the demons to shine after the saintly ensemble in Godsquad. The demons are a lot of fun, whether it be pencil-pushing Scabass or the inventor Belphegor who acts as Hell's answer to Q. This is a Hell where demons are punished with a room of kittens and an Enya compilation album.
The monks are equally good for a laugh. St Cadfan's is essentially Craggy Island from Father Ted, with habits instead of dog collars, and lots of them. They also share the same bickering buffoonery found at Unseen University in Discworld.
Add to that the vast number of tortured souls in Hell, which include Boudica, Beatrix Potter, Tesla, Escher, Florence Nightingale, Mama-Na and a Neanderthal, and you have the series' largest cast list yet. Good and Grant brilliantly juggle all of these characters, taking every opportunity to get laughs from such a rich smorgasbord of fictional, biblical and historical figures.
Hellzapoppin' is my favourite book so far in the Clovenhoof series and shows the franchise is continuing to evolve, expand and go from strength to strength.