by John Connolly
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
4 Out of 5 Stars
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I hate my neighbors. Yeah, I know I'm supposed to love them, but it would be easier if they were just a little more lovable and not so loathable. Between the late night beerfests, the trucks without mufflers, the pit bulls tied to trees, and the Jerry Springer style public arguments (not to mention just a general lack of hygiene), there's not a lot I can be thankful for. Until The Gates. Now I can at least say, "Well, they haven't accidentally opened a gateway between our world and Hell during a seance gone wrong." I feel confident that they'll never do this as they don't appear to be readers of books, and a book is indeed used by the Abernathys (who have the misfortune of living at 666 Crowley Road) to summon forth the legions of Hell.
When I bought the book, I had no idea that it was a young adult book, so that was a little disappointing. However, once I got over that fact, I really enjoyed the tale of precocious Samuel Johnson and his little daschund, the only hope mankind has in the face of the apocalypse being brought about by Ba'al, who is preparing the way for The Great Malevolence. The book is often clever, frequently humorous, and just dark enough for the intended age group (although it might frighten some as this may be marketed as more of a "tweener" book than young adult novel). There are also footnotes aplenty (but not boring ones--my favorite explains how astronomers found a substance in a dust cloud in the center of our galaxy called ethyl formate, which smells of raspberries and rum--which I think is a pretty kick ass scent for a galaxy).
Overall, it reminded me of Neil Gaiman's writing for young adults (at one point I even thought it was like Good Omens--For Kids) and, like Gaiman, John Connolly never underestimates his intended reader's intelligence nor appetite for the macabre.