Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Gates by John Connolly

Eleven year old "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."
-- Blurb from book cover

The Gates by John Connolly had me laughing and reading bits and pieces out loud to my husband for the entire book. Yes ... there are demons, witchcraft dabblers, The Great Malevolence, mayhem, and the possible end-of-the-world. I know these are not typically characters and topics that one would think of as funny, but in Connolly's hands they are screamingly so. It helps that there is a narrator who pops in, mainly in the footnotes ... Let me stop here for a moment and discuss the footnotes bit. I find footnotes to be quite distracting and usually do not appreciate them in my fiction. Heck, I can hardly stand them when I'm reading scholarly material, but I understand the necessity in that venue. But the footnotes Connolly writes into The Gates add to the hilarity. I couldn't help hearing the musical jingle from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fade in and out as I read the footnotes. I also couldn't help hearing the narrator's voice from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy when I read the footnotes. I can probably attribute this to the fact that in both Hitchhikers Guide and The Gates the narrator is trying to explain the outrageous that really can't be explained. So, what I'm trying to say is that I didn't find the footnotes to be a distraction at all and thought they made the book even funnier. Anyway, moving on from the footnotes ...

Young Samuel Johnson is a little boy that you can't help but love. He is rather nerdy, wears thick glasses and tries really hard to please people. For instance, he thinks he is showing initiative (and don't adults love it when kids show initiative?) by getting a head start on the Halloween night crowds and going door-to-door three days early. Instead he simply baffles the adults who misinterpret his actions as obnoxious or, at the very least, see him as a bit daft. So when Samuel witnesses the beginnings of an invasion of earth by a horde of demons he has a difficult time convincing the adults that he is not just a little boy with an overactive imagination. YES! Impending doom! The end-of-the-world is coming! Caused by the intersection of the supernatural and science (this is where the Hadron Collider comes in; really, you just have to read it)!

Can little Samuel Johnson and his dog, Boswell, save the world?

I highly recommend The Gates for some laughs to go along with the R.I.P. Challenge chills!

This is another book not on my challenge list, but will count as one of my reads for the R.I.P. V Challenge.


  1. I definitely want to read this one. My husband read it a few months ago and enjoyed it.

  2. OH Boy Terri...this does sound good; perfect for the challenge RIP V

  3. I really want to read this. I had it out from the library earlier this year, but didn't get a chance. I will have to try again soon!

  4. Is Connolly always funny or just in this book? I have The Book of Lost Things on my shelf--haven't read it--but was always under the impression that he's a more serious writer? This sounds like fabulous fun! I love a book that you just have to quote and talk to hubby about.

  5. Trish: I have both Nocturnes and The Book of Lost Things but haven't read either one. It is my understanding though that they are serious. Guess we'll have to read them and find out! I'm hoping to read Book of Lost Things before RIP V is over.

  6. I liked the sound of this so much that I've added it to the TBR pile. My mother wants it too, because she has a dog called Boswell. "Do you think he's met Bos?" she asked. Um, no, mother. I suppressed the comment that if John Conolly had met Bos he'd probably have called the dog in his book Dr Johnson :)

  7. I totally was thinking Hitchhiker's Guide narration too! I agree that the footnotes in this one weren't distracting at all and I was actually looking forward to them most of the time.
    I'm so glad that you loved this one too! It was wonderful!

  8. Oo! This does sound good! I have a copy of The Book of Lost Things I haven't managed to get to yet, which I really want to read. This one sounds like so much fun. I am glad you enjoyed it.