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Paperback The Gates Book

ISBN: 144242933X

ISBN13: 9781442429338

The Gates

(Book #1 in the Samuel Johnson vs. the Devil Series)

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Book Overview

Bursting with imagination and impossible to put down , this "wholly original" ( People ) and "refreshing" ( San Francisco Chronicle ) novel from New York Times bestselling author John Connolly is about the pull between good and evil, physics and fantasy--and a quirky 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. Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, are...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Devilishly Entertaining

Picture Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) writing his own version of Army of Darkness. You end up with a tale about the dark forces invading the world, but in this case made up of misfit demons like "Nurd, Scourge of the Five Deities". The full title of the book is, "The Gates of Hell Are About to Open. Want to Peek?". Or in some locales, the title is "The Gates of Hell Are About to Open. Mind the Gap." Either title is clever enough to catch my attention and make me pick it up right away. So who is this book for? Well, I read it and loved it, and then passed it to my 11 year old son to read. I know he'll love it too. Connolly's writing is supurb. He tells the story well and his writing style is delightful. It's fun to try to follow his train of thought, because he indulges in so many tangents through footnotes that sometimes take up more than half of the page. If you're not willing to go with the flow, then I can see how that might bug you. But if you're that kind of reader, then this whimsical story probably isn't for you anyway. It's interesting to me how timely this story is, with one of the main "characters" standing out in the news this week. How can the CERN Particle Accelerator be a character? You'll have to read and find out. I'll admit I'm a sucker for Irish authors. I don't consider myself an Anglophile, but I'm amused by their turns of phrase. I also love stories where the kids are smarter than the adults. I just wish the father in this story wasn't such a horrible man. If you're in the mood to be taken away by sci-fi fantasy comic fiction, then put the kettle on, grab a plate of digestive biscuits, and settle in for a good read.

Connolly's Best Work Yet!

I've read a few of the "Charlie Parker" mysteries by John Connolly. but I tend to prefer more "cozy" mysteries. They were well written, but not necessarily my thing. Still, when I read the description of this book, I knew I had to pick it up. It just sounded hilarious. I wasn't disappointed and actually read the book from cover to cover in only two days. This was one of the funniest books I've ever read. If you're a fan of books like Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch or Practical Demonkeeping, then you'll love this. Connolly's writing style with this book is more akin to Douglas Adams than his usual mystery-thriller books. Of particular note is the use of footnotes and how funny they are. I also really liked all the little homages and clever in-jokes. the main character is named Samuel Johnson and his dog is named Boswell. Restoration period literature fans should be amused by both of these. There are streets named after Crowley and Howard Phillips Lovecraft. There is a constant running joke with the Large Hadron Collider. I'm glad the book does leave room for a sequel as I really want to see everyone from Samuel to Mrs. Abernathy to Nurd, Scoure of Five Dieties at least one more time. It's hard to think of anyone that wouldn't enjoy this story. It's written on two different levels: one for younger readers and one for well-read adults with a background in folklore or horror literature. This is easily the best thing I've read by Connolly and hope that this is just the first in a long line of black humour novels by him.

More Than Your Garden-Variety Literary Entertainment

Unlike John Connolly's Charlie Parker novels, THE GATES is arguably a book for young adults. But that shouldn't deter any "old" adults from picking it up, as they almost certainly will enjoy it as much as his other works. The hero of the piece is, indeed, a youngster on the cusp of adolescence. Samuel Johnston lives with his mother in the town of Biddlecombe, England. His dad has recently moved out of the house and traded up, so to speak, on female companions, demonstrating that he is on the cusp of adolescence as well. His mom, understandably, is a bit preoccupied and upset about this state of affairs, leaving young Samuel and his dog, a dachshund named Boswell, on their own. Two simultaneous events --- one occurring locally, the other far away --- change things for Samuel and Boswell. In Europe, a group of scientists are futzing around with a particle accelerator in the hopes of discovering something that is often referred to as the "God particle." At the same time, the Abernathys and the Renfields, two couples in Samuel's neighborhood, are fooling around with a nasty little book that Mrs. Abernathy found in a local bookstore. Neither the scientists nor Samuel's neighbors really know what they're doing, and as a result of their tomfoolery, they unleash demons into our world. Only Samuel, two of his friends, and the valiant Boswell know what is going on. Initially, they can't get anyone to believe them, though that certainly changes once a couple of flying skulls, a reluctant demon named Nurd, and a horrible bishop who has been dead for several hundred years all get into the act. There is, of course, a nasty battle between good and evil, as often happens with such things, but the conclusion to said battle might not be the conclusion you were expecting. Speaking of the unexpected, there were a few things that I personally didn't expect from THE GATES. One is that parts of it are funny --- really funny. Though one might not know it from his Parker novels, Connolly is possessed of great humor, and he lets it shine through here. I'm talking laugh-out-loud humor that is doled out in a ration of every page or so. I also did not expect THE GATES to be frightening. It is, in places, similar to the way the original version of Darby O'Gill and the Little People remains frightening no matter how many times you've seen the banshee come flying onto the screen in its carriage. It stays with you and chills you to the bone. But THE GATES is more than your garden-variety literary entertainment. Connolly explains some basic principles of physics very well here, especially for those whose ready knowledge of such things begin and end with apples dropping (hand raised here). He also pulls off a major coup by making his footnotes --- which are quite frequent --- so entertaining that they don't interfere with the flow of the narrative. You actually come to miss them when they are absent for more than a few pages. It's amazing. However, what is really impressive ---

The Gates of Hell Opened

Yes they did and out came one of the nastiest demons ever to walk the earth. Samuel and his dog Boswell were peeking through the basement window of the Abernathy's house while they and 2 friends were summoning the great evil one and got more that they desired. Of course, this has a little bit to do with the particle accelerator charging up in another country but a bit flung off the accelerator and ended up in the Abernathy's basement. Now that the gates of Hell are open it will eventually fall to poor little Samuel and his little dog Boswell to save the world. Samuel is a great little kid, bright, somewhat nerdy, compassionate and caring. Boswell is pretty neat too and oh yes, there is also a demon lord named Nurd who is pretty darn neat himself, once you get to know him. All in all this is a very well written si-fi, fantasy, mystery that will keep you well entertained while you read it and give you a sense of delight that will stay with you for a while.

A sheer delight

If Neil Gaiman and Christopher Moore were to collaborate on a 21st-century version of "The Phantom Tollbooth," they MIGHT come up with something as brilliant, hilarious and purely enchanting as Connolly's first novel for young people. Out for an early Halloween walk one night, young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, see the neighbors conducting a ritual that accidentally opens the gates of Hell -- just a little, enough for the Large Hadron Collider to start sending energy across the multiverse in a way that can't be good for human beings. I found myself reading passages aloud to my dog, just because I wanted someone else to hear them.
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