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The Gates by John Connolly
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May 07, 10

bookshelves: sciencefictionfantasy

Set in present-day rural England, this novel is about young Samuel Johnson and his faithful dachshund, Boswell. Samuel is showing initiative by going trick-or-treating three days early. He sees strange things happening at 666 Crowley Road.

Looking in through a basement window, he sees two local married couples, the Renfield’s and the Abernathy’s, dressed in long black cloaks, and with a pentagram drawn on the floor. They got hold of a book of spells, and are playing at devil worship. Things work better than they expected, because an actual gate to Hell is opened. All four are taken over by demons from Hell. Mrs. Abernathy becomes the extremely sexual "leader" of the invasion of Earth, while the others have become decaying, humanoid things that catch flies with their tongues.

What can Samuel do? His mother doesn’t believe him, and his father walked out on the family months before, and is now living elsewhere, with another woman. Knowing that Samuel is "the enemy," Mrs. Abernathy sends some demons to take care of him, once and for all, but they are failures. Meantime, the invasion of Earth has begun, with "minor league" demons coming through the gate, but the townspeople start to fight back. Samuel recruits a couple of friends, Maria and Thomas, who is pretty good at whacking demons with a cricket bat. The only way to stop the invasion is to reverse the portal, which has now consumed the house. They get some unexpected help from Nurd, another demon who was planning to rule Earth, but had a change of heart.

Here is a wonderful piece of storytelling. It is made to be read aloud to older children (it may be a little too much for younger children). Adults will love it, because it is full of that dry, understated, British-type humor. Either way, this is very much recommended.

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