Published: September 28, 2010
Number of pages: 293
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: fantasy, mystery, apocalypse
Verdict: 5 owl hoots out of 5
Summary: Samuel Johnson and his dog, Boswell go trick-or-treating 3 days before Halloween, and unexpectedly witness the Abernathy’s opening a portal to the gates of Hell. They didn’t mean to or else the Abernathy’s would have known beforehand what their experiment would lead to: summoning Satan and letting out demons and other creepy things from Hell. And starting the beginning to what maybe the end to the world.
My Review: After reading the synopsis I was reminded of the book Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchatt. The concept seemed familiar as the story focuses on a boy and his dog who go out to save the world from a pre-apocalypse after the neighbors ‘accidentally’ opened a portal to Hell. I enjoyed reading Good Omens so I had good reason to believe that this book was going to be a fun read.
The Gates is a comical story mixing science and supernatural about how a boy and his dachshund save their town and the universe from Satan and his demonic powers before Halloween. Samuel Johnson can be a clever boy of his age but it’s hard to convince adults that demons are about to take over the world when grown-ups don’t believe you. So relying on his wits and his loyal companion Boswell, Samuel is left alone on how to stop the apocalypse from coming.
I absolutely love Samuel’s character but I also feel sorry for him, as it can be tough being an 11-year-old and trying to convince grown-ups to believe you about angels and pins, and people turning into demons, etc. But Samuel doesn’t allow adults to put him down, so he relies on his friends including his dog (who is smart enough to be Samuel’s little psychic and reliable partner) to stop what’s happening in Biddlecomb while breaking curfew. He’s a persistent child who will do anything to make other people believe him and when all else fails, Samuel learns to depend on his wits and summoning the courage he thought he never had to stand up against mankind’s feared enemy for centuries, Satan.
But we learn that not all demons are bad. Nurd, the Scourge of the Five Deities refuses to be a nasty demon and instead wants to be normal while minding his own business. And after meeting Samuel, we see that Nurd has more of a good side with a wild passion for cars. The first book in the trilogy ends with a cliffhanger leaving us wondering, what will the future of the universe be?
I really enjoyed this book as it was a fun read with laugh-out-loud moments, and I love how John Connolly takes something depressing as the apocalypse into a hilarious story with witty footnotes in every chapter. I recommend this book for anyone who either read Terry Prattchet or Good Omens or is looking for a funny horror story that is part physics and part fantasy.