Friday, May 10, 2013

The Gates

John Connolly
Hodder & Stoughton
Reviewed by: Nancy
4 out of 5 stars


Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Road. The Abernathys don't mean any harm by their flirtation with the underworld, but when they unknowingly call forth Satan himself, they create a gap in the universe. A gap in which a pair of enormous gates is visible. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out...

Can one small boy defeat evil? Can he harness the power of science, faith, and love to save the world as we know it?

Bursting with imagination, The Gates is about the pull between good and evil, physics and fantasy. It is about a quirky and eccentric boy who is impossible not to love, and the unlikely cast of characters who give him the strength to stand up to a demonic power.

John Connolly manages to re-create the magical and scary world of childhood that we've all left behind but so love to visit. And for those of you who thought you knew everything you could about particle physics and the universe, think again. This novel makes anything seem possible.

My Review

I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy nearly 30 years ago and don’t remember finding it all that funny. I also never cared for Monty Python. Maybe it’s the British humor I don’t get, but Fawlty Towers cracks me up, no matter how many times I see each episode. Humor is such a personal thing, and sometimes I just don’t see humor in things others find funny. And other times I laugh hysterically at things people don’t understand. So I’m cautious about the humorous fiction I read, mostly preferring titles that are unexpectedly funny rather than those which claim to be funny.

I wasn’t too sure I wanted to read The Gates, particularly after reading a few reviews claiming it was laugh-out-loud funny, but I’ve heard many good things about the author, so I thought I’d give it a try.

This story takes place in a small town in England. 11-year-old Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, witness their neighbors summoning strange beings though a small, glowing hole in their basement. Meanwhile, two scientists in Switzerland in the middle of a Battleship game are bewildered by a rotten egg smell and a bit of energy that escaped from a particle accelerator. Together, these events have freed all kinds of nasty beings intent on destroying the world. It is up to Samuel to stop them, that’s if anyone would believe him.

The physics stuff in the beginning slowed me down a little, but I thoroughly enjoyed the quirky characters, the nasty demons, and the banished demon, Nurd, who becomes Samuel’s unlikely ally. I loved the fantasy and horror elements, the lighthearted humor, and the enlightening footnotes.

This is a fun story that I’d recommend to young and old alike.

Also posted at Goodreads

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