The Gates – John Connolly

Though I have never read any of John Connolly’s crime and mystery fiction but I am a huge fan of ‘The Book of Lost Things’ which a friend recommended to me for being a wonderfully warped adult fairytale and it was. This was during pre-blogging days which is a shame as I could rave about that until the cows come home; maybe it’s another book to add to my never ending list of re-reads? So when I saw that ‘The Gates’ was another slightly fantasy and supernatural based book I simply had to read it. I probably would have if I hadn’t read any Connolly as the cover is a delight to behold.

Imagine you are just out walking your dog at the end of your street and there is some huge bang coming from number 666. You go to investigate and find that some of your neighbours have been a little bit bored one afternoon and decided to open up another dimension and the gates of hell? What on earth do you do? This is the situation that school boy Samuel Johnson finds himself in three days before Halloween when he goes out ‘showing initiative’ to do some early trick or treating with his sausage dog Boswell.

As no one believes him it seems that only Samuel can save the world from the evil Mrs Abernathy, or what has possessed the body of the originally not too nice Mrs Abernathy, and her mission to bring ‘The Great Malevolence’ and all his followers to turn earth to ash and dust. Fortunately the portal also brings up the demon called Nurd, who has been banished from several parts of hell for not joining in with evil doings, who becomes an unlikely comrade for Samuel and a very funny one.  

The book is a gripping adventurous romp from start to finish with heaps and heaps of funny moments, I laughed out loud twice and giggled at several points. I thought Mrs Abernathy was a brilliant villain and all the demons where brilliantly described you could just envisage them. I was slightly concerned when I started reading as there were footnotes in the book. I have to say footnotes annoy me normally but these ones make you laugh. In parts the book can be quite scientific and so through these humorous footnotes certain parts of physics and chemistry seem to become really easy to understand and I do not have a chemist/physicist mind as my science teaching step-father would happily vouch for, he taught me these at school. 

Whereas John Connolly’s previous fantasy (I use that term loosely) novel ‘The Book of Lost Things’ was an adult book that teenagers could enjoy ‘The Gates’ is very much a book aimed at teenagers that will love it and adults who will love it even more so. It seems some kind of serendipity or blogendipity if you will (or maybe just timely) that after writing about my favourite children’s books yesterday I should be posting about a book that very much appealed to the inner child in me.

If you like a very well written escapist thrill then you will love this book as I did. I am quite pleased to know that I still have more of Connolly’s supernatural and scary tales to go as there is a seven story collection called Nocturnes which I am now absolutely desperate to read (is that a big enough hint?) I am intrigued about his crime mysteries and may look at those in the future too. Would you recommend his crime what is it like? Have you read any of Connolly’s work? If you haven’t do give this a whirl.


Filed under Books of 2009, Hodder & Stoughton, John Connolly, Review

22 responses to “The Gates – John Connolly

  1. You know, I think I’m one of the last people on earth to read The Book of Lost Things. I keep seeing it on the slightly discounted rack at Borders, so its not like I’ve had opportunities. This one sounds fun too. And as many crime novels as I’ve read, I’ve not read any of his. Total unexplored territory!

    • He is definately worth exploring Sandy. I think The Book of Lost Things is a brilliant book and it takes quite a lot for me to say that. I will have to try his crime at some point.

  2. This book sounds brilliant…another for the TBR list.

  3. Jo

    I think The Book of Lost things was the book that first got me interested in fairytale re-tellings. Nocturnes is on my radar to be read, but I didn’t know about this one! Sounds good though.
    It also sounds like something I could read jointly with Dylan. He enjoyed Book of Lost Things (even though school told him it wasn’t suitable)

    • Well schools arent always right are they, mind you dont tell Dylan that hahaha. I think this is one he would enjoy even more, though I think adults get The Book of Lost Things darker parts more. This isnt so dark even if it is dealing with hell and demons.

  4. I MUST read both of these. I have the Book of Lost Things in the TBR pile so up the list it goes. There is something in the best grown-up fairy tales that really gets your imagination re-fired which I love.

  5. Well, Sandy is not the only one who hasn’t read this author. I am intrigued by both this title and the Book of Lost Things. Off to see if either one is available at the local library for some holiday break reading.

  6. Hello there, Simon! Thank you for recommending this book. This shouldn’t be too hard to find, as I keep seeing Connoly’s books in discount racks.

  7. I haven’t read anything by Connoly, but have The Book of Lost Things here.

    I’m not sure about The Gates, as I often struggle to connect with characters based in a fantasy world. I think I’ll try ‘lost things’ and go from there.

    • Its not really fantasy as everything happens in a small town in England but I know what you mean about connecting with fantatsy characters. I just found Samule and his dog hilarious and instantly likeable.

  8. I also really enjoyed The Book of Lost Things, so was excited when I received an ARC of this book. When I realized this was aimed at a younger set, my husband and I decided we would read it out loud to each other… maybe not the best choice because of the footnotes, but we’re still having a good time with it. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the thing in its entirety, and I look forward to making more progress on it!

    • Reading to each other is such a lovely idea. I might see if this works with the converted one. It did for a while earlier in the year but then it suddenly wained. We will see if I can resurrect it.

  9. Eva

    Nocturnes is awesome! 😀 Although I would have thought there were more than 7 stories-I guess two of them would be considered novellas.

    • I am really looking forward to reading Nocturnes if I can get my hands on it as I think with these sorts of stories Connolly seems to hit it right on the head. I cant comment on his crime but must keep my eyes peeled for some.

  10. I loved The Book of Lost Things and some of the stories in Nocturnes. There is at least one story in there that features his detective so you can get a taste of his crime writing there.
    I’m hoping that Santa brings me The Gates next week and if not, I will be finding it for myself soon!

  11. Pingback: April’s Incomings… « Savidge Reads

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