CONNOLLY, John. The Gates. 2009.

‘[…] only Samuel’s dog, Boswell, truly understands him. Oh, and as if things couldn’t get any worse, Samuel’s neighbours, led by the villainous Mrs Abernathy, are trying to open the gates of hell. […] Now the fate of humanity lies in the hands of one small boy, an even smaller dog, and a very unlucky demon named Nurd…’

Hodder & Stoughton’s edition, 2010
Hodder & Stoughton’s edition, 2010

Yes, the summary on the back cover is pretty much the whole plot. With any other tiny detail it could be considered a proper spoiler. On the other side, this book is not about the story, but the style. Despite the image on its cover, this is a humour novel with little horror in it. Expect something on the lines of Beetlejuice or The Nightmare before Christmas.

Surprisingly enough, there’s even some physics included. Connolly resolved to treat the travelling between Earth and hell as a proper black hole/wormhole crossing between universes. Thus there are particle accelerators and scientists trying to make sense of it. However, although Connolly consulted experts, books and articles on the matter, he did ignore some facts for the sake of literature and put it in a plain way. So don’t let physics put you off.

Going back to judging by its cover, you’d think the book is not worth your time or money. I did. But since it was a present, I gave it a try; which I don’t regret. On the contrary, there’s a subtitle on the same cover reading Samuel Johnson Versus The Devil: Round 1, and I might even try to find and read round 2. Apparently, there are three so far.


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