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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 outCan 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 uirky 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 powerJohn 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


10 thoughts on “The Gates

  1. says:

    I probably should not describe a book about the gates of Hell opening as ‘cute’ but here we areIt was cuteI haven’t read any Connolly before not even the famous The Book of Lost Things so I didn’t know what to expect–besides the fact that friend Mimi liked it Turns out it was a uick little read that was clever and entertainingSamuel Johnson is avoiding Stephanie the Babysitter and her bossy tendencies when he and his faithful dog Boswell the constant companion witnesses the new neighbors at 666 Crowley Road summon a demon As Samuel watches through the basement window the demon brings over a few pals and then helpfully outlines its plans to pave the way for the Great Malevolence At the Large Hadron Collider beneath a mountain the scientists are puzzled when a particle seems to ‘fly off’ and code is suddenly re written That shouldn’t be possible either in Battleship or in Boson land Meanwhile Nurd Scourge of Five Deities but mostly just Annoying to his brothers who include “Graham the Demon of Stale Biscuits and Crackers and Erics’ the Demon of Bad Punctuation“ is facing a serious bout of exile induced boredom in the Wasteland when he’s suddenly pulled to EarthNarration has a dry British humor to it although played down a bit to the young adult level There’s some interesting science background integrated into the story–it’s not every day a fiction book educates on beginning of the universe and the scientific method although Connelly does note “This is how we end up with nuclear weapons and scientists claiming that they’d only set out to invent something that steamed radishes” It may be that I’m in British humor mode lately as I make my way through Aaronovitch’s Grant audio books but I found myself snickering uite a bit especially in the beginning Connolly uses footnotes to a much better effect than Susanna Clarke particularly when he explains being ‘sick’ to the presumed adolescents reading the book As he explains the punctuation he describes air uotes When he takes it a step further by suggesting the reader use air uotes to describe a ‘dinner’ of boiled fish I found myself laughing But perhaps I’m easily amused The asides allowed educational but tongue in cheek social commentary while the story could focus on plot and entertaining dialogue Like the best child films there’s uite a bit here to amuse those with a classical education as when Samuel runs into trouble showing Mr Hume a pin speculating about angels dancing on the headGiven all the cheeky asides and references it is a relief that the plot is straightforward and moves briskly Characters don’t get a ton of space to develop but what is there is serviceable enough avoiding caricature I liked that Samuel’s separated parents provided an emotional foil to rival the physical threat of the demonsI don’t know that I’d agree with those who saw similarities with Gaiman whose focus is often on world building weirdness and the occasional creepy sexuality than a linear plot or those who saw a similarity with Good Omens The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter Witch by Pratchett who never met a farce he didn’t want to turn into a 350 page book It most reminded me most of A Lee Martinez’ Gil's All Fright Dinerreview somewhat strangely of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and for a very brief moment Mr Frog of Frog and Toad Are FriendsBreezy uick with charming little informative asides–did you know that Michelangelo wrote a poem complaining about painting the Sistine Chapel? When was the last time I said that about a fiction young adult book?¹ For that matter an adult urban fantasy?² Highly recommended if one is feeling whimsical and clever ¹Never²Only if you count mythology


  2. says:

    The Gates is a hell of a funny book yes laugh out loud funnyA foursome of dark dabblers attempt a summoning Somewhere near Geneva the Large Hadron Collider is whirring about attempting to divine the “god particle” What could possibly go wrong? Before you can say “oopsy” a small portal to you know where has been opened and nasty slithery sorts begin arriving like unwanted relations for an extended stay John Connolly image from his siteSamuel Johnson this one sans Tourette and any inclination to pen a new dictionary is a precocious eleven year old He is trying to get a jump on Halloween a few days early He and his dog Boswell go ahead and snicker happen upon the unlucky coven just as they are absorbed by large things with tentacles and issues with personal hygiene One local in particular Mrs Abernathy or what has taken her over takes charge and the game is on How will Sam convince the people? I mean really Would you believe it if someone told you that your town had been invaded by beings from hell? Of course I do remember the Republican convention here in NYC but none of them actually displayed physical tentacles The cast grows to include a conflicted demon named Nurd a pair of game clerics a very evil dead bishop who would prefer not to remain beneath the ground dark creatures of all sorts and a town population determined to defend their blessed plot their earth their realm their England Connolly has a lot of fun with names A teacher is named Hume the Renfields comprise half the summoners Dr Planck and Professor Hilbert work at CERN It seems like a cast list for an episode of LOSTYou will laugh and you may cry but if the latter it will be from laughing so hard The Gates is a madcap romp that offers engaging characters scary monsters silly monsters walking dead and some good old common sense Ok some of the evil doers were maybe not so new but there are plenty of new ones to go around I was very much reminded of Christopher Moore’s work and of the tone of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy You won’t have to conjure a good feeling while reading Connolly’s sweet sulfurous offering It will arrive uninvited PS I cannot imagine that when really it must be when and not if this is made into a film there would not be roles for Simon Pegg Jessica Stevenson and Mike Watt PPS – the scatological twelve year old hiding under my gnarled hide leaped for joy when a hapless demon arrived and commented on his unfortunate landing “I appear to be covered in poo”EXTRA STUFF The Author's personal FB and GR pages


  3. says:

    Posted at at Shelf Inflicted 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 himThe physics stuff in the beginning slowed me down a little but I thoroughly enjoyed the uirky 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


  4. says:

    This book had me laughing out loud every several pages it's a keeper John Connolly just earned himself a fanIn The Gates Samuel Johnson and his dog Boswell have stumbled upon a portal to hell when his neighbors unleashed demonic forces during a ritual gone wrong With the help of his friends a pair of misfit scientists and a demon Nurd Samuel must repair the rift between earth and hell to keep the Great Malevolence from taking over the world and destroying humanityThe book is punctuated throughout with footnotes on the Big Bang wormholes the confusing ways of teenaged girls and many other allusions to hell and the devil in literature I enjoyed Connolly’s snarky whimsical prose and the little uirks and great amount of feeling his characters possess as they try to save their world Samuel is such an endearing character very inuisitive and bright and the story never strayed from the fact that he is a normal albeit strange 11 year old boy The novel has an added layer of science which makes it a fascinating read for anyone interested in particle physics The gateway to hell is opened when a stray particle escaped from the Large Hadron Collider and Samuel insists on understanding the scientific principles behind it The difficult concepts of uantum mechanics are discussed with surprising detail and clarity I was uite entertained and for a while oblivious that I was being schooled Well playedOverall The Gates is a uick and easy read that will engage readers of many ages Connolly has built a fun little world in this book and it's exciting to know that there is a seuel The Infernals If you’re looking for an amusing read that won’t make you think too hard but is different from your normal fare this is a good choice


  5. says:

    In Which We Learn a Little About The Gates and the Subjective Nature of Humor None of Which Is Entirely HelpfulAnd we’re off With such a large stack of horror books to work my way through this year I wanted to get a jump on the seasonal festivities And thanks to Carol’s sage advice this book made for a terrific jumping off point So much so that I’ve already purchased a copy of my own to lend to my fifteen year old nephew Here’s hoping he has as much fun with it as I did 🤞 The story begins with Samuel Johnson an eleven year old boy from Biddlecombe England who’s also trying to get a jump on the season by going trick or treating a full three days before Halloween with his beloved dachshund Boswell in tow However his initiative is met with disbelief and scorn by a rather rude chap at 666 Crowley Road As he pauses in the alley behind the grump’s house to reconsider his plans and think up other ways to avoid his babysitter¹ Samuel comes to witness some strange goings on in the basementIt seems the Abernathys and another couple in a foolhardy attempt to liven up their lives have chosen an unfortunate time to dabble in the occult Because at the exact same moment they’re attempting to summon a demon a couple of scientist at CERN notice a problem with the Large Hadron Collider when – “A bit just whizzed off” said Ed “And it went beep”“A bit? said Victor “It’s not a bicycle Bits don’t just whiz off”“Right then” said Ed looking miffed “A particle of some kind appears to have disengaged itself from the whole and exited the accelerator Is that better?”“You mean that a bit just whizzed off?” said Victor thinking who said we Germans don’t have a sense of humor?The two events intertwine on a cosmic level to inadvertently open a portal to another dimension – Hell 😶 Cue the ominous music This book was loads of fun with characters like Nurd the Scourge of Five Deities who couldn’t catch a break or the shapeshifting monster under the bed too inexperienced for the job But I was especially impressed by the author’s ability to blend what on the surface would appear to be the polar opposite fields of physics and fantasy The narrative was broken up by a running series of asides in the form of humorous and often highly informative footnotes I loved how the author was able to insert all those little science factoids as well as some cheeky social commentary into his light hearted young adult urban fantasy Here’s the thing though humor is subjective And while I’m a longtime fan of several American humorists like Mark Twain Joseph Heller Kurt Vonnegut Christopher Moore Joe Lansdale et al British humor often falls flat for me The comedy routines in books by Douglas Adam Terry Pratchett and PG Wodehouse often grow wearisome but Connolly managed to walk that thin line between amusing and exhausting I can’t really explain it nor justify it because the main knock on this book is much the same as those others it’s fairly relentless in its routine There’s no real ebb and flow to the uips rather the author can’t seem to resist the urge to toss one in at every opportunity which may annoy some readers The saving grace for me was that I read most of the book a chapter at a time so it never felt excessiveBottom line The humor outweighs the horror in this delightfully twisted tale of a precocious boy and his faithful dachshund battling it out with the Great Malevolence’s right hand woman and her zany and surprisingly sympathetic demon hoard in an attempt to stave off the apocalypse The story was not only highly amusing but surprisingly educational In other words it’s fun for the whole family so you may want to consider adding it to your library as well 1 “It is a curious fact that small boys are terrified of their babysitters than small girls are In part this is because small girls and babysitters who are usually slightly larger girls belong to the same species and therefore understand each other Small boys on the other hand do not understand girls and therefore being looked after by one is a little like a hamster being looked after by a shark If you are a small boy it may be some consolation to you to know that even large boys do not understand girls and girls by and large do not understand boys This makes adult life very interesting”


  6. says:

    Not to put too fine a point on it but I hate my neighbors Yeah I know I'm supposed to love them but it would be easier if they were just a little lovable and not so loathable Between the late night beerfests the trucks without mufflers the pit bulls tied to trees and the Jerry Springer style public arguments not to mention just a general lack of hygiene there's not a lot I can be thankful for Until The Gates Now I can at least say Well they haven't accidentally opened a gateway between our world and Hell during a seance gone wrong I feel confident that they'll never do this as they don't appear to be readers of books and a book is indeed used by the Abernathys who have the misfortune of living at 666 Crowley Road to summon forth the legions of Hell When I bought the book I had no idea that it was a young adult book so that was a little disappointing However once I got over that fact I really enjoyed the tale of precocious Samuel Johnson and his little dachshund the only hope mankind has in the face of the apocalypse being brought about by Ba'al who is preparing the way for The Great Malevolence The book is often clever freuently humorous and just dark enough for the intended age group although it might frighten some as this may be marketed as of a tweener book than young adult novel There are also footnotes aplenty but not boring ones my favorite explains how astronomers found a substance in a dust cloud in the center of our galaxy called ethyl formate which smells of raspberries and rum which I think is a pretty kick ass scent for a galaxy Overall it reminded me of Neil Gaiman's writing for young adults at one point I even thought it was like Good Omens For Kids and like Gaiman John Connolly never underestimates his intended reader's intelligence nor appetite for the macabre Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder and at Shelf Inflicted


  7. says:

    Rating 325 of fiveThe Book Report 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 outCan 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 uirky 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 powerJohn 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 possibleMy Review Samuel Johnson is demonstrating initiative by beating out the competition for Halloween candy or so he thinks; Boswell sighs a lot I think he knows They go to the Abernathys house and Mr Abernathy a miserably unhappy self help book writer married to Satanno seriously sends them on their way before rejoining his horrifying wife and two of their revolting bores of friendsThey are summoning a demon for fun and maybe profitTrouble isheard of CERN? The uest for the God Particle?no one ever thought that maybe just maybe it was the DEVIL particleThus is the world doomed doomed I say only to be saved from enslavement and destruction by a nebbishy little boy Does this ring a bell? It's less portentous than the Harry Potter books like an extra long boy centric episode of Buffy the Vampire SlayerIt's amusing and it's a charming way to spend a few hours If it changes your life you didn't have much of a one before If the next installment somehow makes it through my door with no effort whatsoever on my part I'll get around to reading it About the best I can say is that I chuckled every half hour or so


  8. says:

    I enjoyed this very much but let me say straight away it is nothing like any of his other books Not the ones I have read anyway and that is nearly all of them This is really a series for older children and it is written in that light entertaining way where even when the world is filling up with beings from Hell you just know nothing bad is really going to happen Samuel who is about eleven years old and definitely idiosyncratic manages to repeatedly escape death by demon by luck not judgement The book is funny in the manner of a Terry Pratchett novel with entertaining postscripts popping up freuently I think the book is directed at children but there is still heaps in it for the adult reader and this very adult reader will be looking for the seuel very very soon


  9. says:

    Zany and hilarious and probably one of the best Halloween stories I've read The narration and footnotes had me laughing out loud every time I picked up the book As soon as my copy arrives in the mail I'm gonna post all the uotes that cracked me up There isn't much of a plot here though amateurish Satanists accidentally open a portal to hell with unintentional help from the large collider at CERN which was in the middle of some Higgs boson related work Then subtle chaos ensues when some of hell's denizens crawl through the portal The fate of the world and the task of closing the portal falls on an 11 year old boy from a small English town and his faithful dachshundEven though I'm not the target audience young adults for this book I enjoyed it immenselyFull review at


  10. says:

    I loved everything about this one Had a real Gaiman esue feel to it Samuel and his dog Boswell Nurd the Scourge of Five Dieties Shan and Gath the warthog demons getting hammered on Spiggit’s Old Peculiar beer and the very gates of hell opening in the uaint little town of Biddlecombe 5 Stars and Highly Recommended