The Gates of Hell Are About to Open Want to Peek? by John Connolly

October 10, 2009
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The Gates of Hell Are About to Open Want to Peek?
John Connolly

Atria
10-10-09
Hardcover/214 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4391-7263-6
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". . . science and the supernatural together in a delightful and readable novel. . ."

The footnotes in The Gates of Hell Are About to Open Want to Peek? (or The Gates) are as important to the story as the text above them. The book begins with a whole chapter devoted to the Big Bang theory with detailed footnotes. The story then moves to a small town where two couples are preparing to delve into the mysteries of the occult. Mrs. Abernathy, the leader of the group, has coaxed her friends Mr. and Mrs. Renfield and her own husband to perform a sacred ritual in the basement of her home. Everything is going smoothly until Mr. Abernathy opens the door to Samuel and his dog Boswell. Samuel, dressed as a ghost three days before Halloween, is hoping to get a jump on everyone else. Mr. Abernathy dressed in a black robe practically slams the door in Samuel’s face without even so much as a nut placed in his empty bucket. Samuel files this incident away for another time.

Meanwhile in Switzerland, the Large Hadron Collider has been turned on again. When the atoms collide, though it seems like a small thing at the time, a bit of something separates and flies into the air. No one knows where it went, but they shut down the LHC to investigate. Unknown to everyone on Earth, forces have been unleashed that will affect Samuel, the Abernathys, the Renfields and many people in the small town of Biddlecomb.

In the course of the story the reader learns of an unknown dimension and the creepy, crawly things that inhabit this world. When the LHC released that little bit of energy, a slight crack happened in the middle of the star Mrs. Abernathy had painted on her basement floor. The Abernathys and Renfields begin to change and not for the better. They seem to be inhabited by a force that causes them to decay. Except for Mrs. Abernathy, who will keep her lovely visage and figure, they turn into lumps who sit on the sofa without moving. On Halloween when Samuel sees the transformed figures and the crack in the basement, his entire life changes.

What happens next is more like an episode of Supernatural because the reader is introduced to monsters and demons who cause mass chaos in the town of Biddlecomb, bringing one of the world’s leading physicists to Samuel’s home. The book moves along at a very fast pace. The author writes most of this novel tongue in cheek. However, some scenes have a great deal of gore. Though the reader knows it is just a fantasy, the writing is so descriptive that you might feel a chill or two in parts.

The story is compelling and once the reader begins it’s very difficult to put the book down. As mentioned before, the footnotes add to the story and should not be skipped. The main character Samuel, an eleven year old boy, is precocious, brave and an unlikely hero. He and his friends are the epitome of goodness as they go up against the evil unleashed by the nefarious Mrs. Abernathy and her minions. The reader will learn a great deal of physics and meet some fascinating characters—and you might find a monster or two you want to hug.

Mr. Connolly is to be commended for bringing both science and the supernatural together in such a delightful and readable novel that will appeal to both adults and children.

 

Reviewer: Barbara Ehrentreu

 

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