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.