A strange novel for strange young people.
Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund Boswell are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Hallowe’en. Which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Avenue.
The Abernathys don’t mean any harm by their flirtation with Satanism. But it just happens to coincide with a malfunction in the Large Hadron Collider that creates a gap in the universe. A gap in which there is a pair of enormous gates. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out . . .
Can Samuel persuade anyone to take this seriously? Can he harness the power of science to save the world as we know it?
John Connolly is well known for his crime books, and probably even more well known for his fantasy novel, The Book Of Lost Things. In The Gates, John has stayed with fantasy, but this time he’s aiming his book at a younger audience. However, as with all the great YA books, this one will have the adults fighting to read it too.
The first thing to say about this book is that it’s very funny. It’s a fun book to read, which actually managed to make me laugh out loud at times – great escapism on dull days! There’s enough humour for the younger readers to enjoy, and yet it’s not overdone, and therefore off putting for adults.
The characters are fantastic – Samuel is a young lad dealing with his father leaving, whilst also dealing with the small matter of a town over run with demons, and the gates of hell opening. The demons themselves are sometimes scary, but often rather dim, and some even discover a taste for beer! The highlight for me was Nurd – a demon who deserves a book all of his own.
This is going to appeal to many fans of children’s fantasy, but especially those who enjoyed Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus. The pace of the book is fast, and the length is probably perfect for younger readers. My only complaint, however, is that it was a little too short for me.. but then I could have kept reading for a very long time.
Highly recommended, this book is published on 1st Oct.