Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Gates

I seem to be having a slow reading month, I suppose for obvious reasons, but only to have read two books by the middle of the month is slow even by my 'not very quick' reading standards. Oh well, it's not a race to see who can read the most books in a year... if it was I would surely lose anyway! LOL. *And* the two books I have read were both for Carl's R.I.P. VI challenge so that's progress in itself because it means I'm already halfway through the challenge, although I do actually hope to read more than four books for it.

Anyway, my second book for Carls' R.I.P. VI challenge is The Gates by John Connolly.



Samuel Johnson is eleven years old and lives with his mum and beloved dog, Boswell. Until recently his dad lived there too, but he left them to go and live with a younger woman.

Samuel has decided, for one reason or another, to start his trick or treating several nights before the 31st. October. He knocks on the door of number 666 Crowley Avenue, the home of a couple called Abernathy, and gets told to hop it. Only Samuel doesn't hop it: he hangs around. What he sees through the window of the basement of the house, involving the Abernathys and their friends, the Renfields, scares him half to death. He needs desperately to tell someone but when he tries to tell, first his father on the phone, and then his mother, that the Abernathys have been taken over by demons and the gates of hell will soon be opened to release the devil into the world, no one takes any notice and when they do they think Samuel's been playing too many computer games.

Things start to happen... a demon is sent to occupy the space under his bed and then a dark shadow nearly destroys him and Boswell one night... and Samuel realises that Mrs. Abernathy - the chief demon - knows that he was a witness to what happened in the basement. So far, Samuel has dealt with these attempts on his life efficiently but he knows he needs help. He happens to see something on the news about the Large Hadron Collider and realises that there might be a connection between his problem and one that the scientists in charge of that are having, so Samuel drops them an e.mail. In the meantime he has two good school friends to help him deal with the demons but the reality is that Mrs. Abernathy will stop at nothing to destroy Samuel...

John Connolly is probably best known for two things, his Charlie Parker series of crime/mystery books, which I haven't read but my husband loves, and a book that was really popular a couple of RIPs ago, entitled The Book of Lost Things which I have read. I've also read his Nocturnes... a book of weird tales that are among the best I've ever read. I had no idea what to expect from this which he states is 'A strange novel for strange young people'. Well it's obviously perfect for strange grandmas too, as I really enjoyed it.

And I mean 'enjoyed' as the book quite simply, is great fun. Although this is definitely a book that features hellish things, the emphasis is really on humour of the Terry Pratchett variety. There are humorous foot-notes and lovely comments about the absurdity of life and grown-ups. And problems are solved bizarrely such as Samuel's friend, Tom, using his cricketing skills to bat flying demons to death. Or Samuel discussing the situation with the demon under his bed, who isn't very good at his job, and them deciding that Samuel is just not scared of him so he may as well go...

There are references or little nods all through the book to other authors and works, Samuel's name, for instance, and his dog is called Boswell; Samuel goes to Montague Rhodes James Secondary school; there's a Reverend Ussher and so on. It's fun spotting the references. There's also quite a lot of science info along the way, I learnt quite a lot about the Hadron Collider, all interesting to me but maybe not to everyone.

What else? I think I've said most of it... the characterisation is good, the demon 'Nurd' is probably my favourite of the lot, the demons are fun rather than terrifying and the plot fair whips along. I love the cover of this edition which states the title, The Gates, and underneath says... 'of hell are about to open... mind the gap'. (London underground reference... well *I* laughed.)

And it turns out this is book one of a series. And what did I find in the library this morning? Book two, just out, which I'll definitely be reading for the challenge in a few weeks.
~~~oOo~~~

13 comments:

Kailana said...

I really need to read something by Connelly... One of these days I will!

DesLily said...

I've only read the book of lost things and that was good..but I keep trying to stick to books that I will "love" and not just "like"..but that's not going so well.. I have liked what I've read so far but I want a "wow that was a great book!" and not stop talking about it for a long time!.. *sigh*..

fiction-books said...

Hi Cath,

What a great review, I can tell that you enjoyed reading this one.

I used to read John Connolly quite a lot, but I haven't ventured into one of his books for some time now, although as usual, there are at least a couple of his books that I can see in my TBR pile.

I also read quite slowly, as I generally only get an hour or so a day to curl up with my latest find. I do sometimes worry that others seem to be steaming ahead with their review tally, but at the end of the day it isn't a competition and I would rather enjoy my book than trying to rush on to the next one.

Happy Reading!!

Yvonne

animewookie said...

Oh this sounds like such a fun read. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and what a lucky find at the library :D

Cath said...

Kelly: He has written some darn good books and is well worth a try.

Pat: It's so great to find a book that you absolutely love... but it's quite rare for me and I wish it happened more often too.

Yvonne: I assume you've read some of his Charlie Parker books? My husband reads them and says they're excellent. They're on my 'read at some stage' list.

It's not a competition, you're quite right. And at the moment I have other committments so reading and book reviews have to take second place. That means that when I do get to sit and read without interruption I appreciate it all the more.

Kelly(animewookie): It was great fun... and yeah... I couldn't believe my luck at the library!

Priya said...

I have only read The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, and I liked it but didn't really love it. But I've heard a lot about The Gates from a lot of people, so I would like to try reading it sometime! Sounds like you enjoyed it, nice review!!

Cath said...

Priya: I was the same as you about The Book of Lost Things, liked it but didn't love it. I did however love Connolly's book of creepy short stories, Nocturnes. It was excellent! I think he may be a bit of a hit and miss author for me, but I did enjoy The Gates.

lifeonthecutoff said...

Your review is so thrilling and your enthusiasm so contagious that I may just have to read the book, Cath.

Cath said...

lifeonthecutoff: I think you might just find that the book is quite a lot of fun...

GeraniumCat said...

Sounds great fun! I do love a funny demon. I think I'll bump this up the TBR pile, as you obviously liked it so much, but I must read *some* of the books I said I would for RIP - I keep finding new ones (such a surprise, I can't think how *that's* happening...)

Cath said...

GeraniumCat: I know! My problem is tottering home with library books (like The Gates) that I just *know* will fit the RIP brief... So far I've read just one off my list, one library book, and now I'm reading a crime book that was not on my original list but which will qualify too for RIP. Meanwhile the shelf of books I actually put aside sits there giving me black looks...

Nan said...

So, it is a children's or young adult book? I think it sounds good.

Cath said...

Nan: It's quite hard to categorise. I would say it was suitable for 10 to 14 year olds, (my 11 year old grand-daughter loved it) and adults. Teens over the age of 14 probably would not want to read it.