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The Gates (Samuel Johnson Series #1)

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Overview

Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund Boswell are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween. Which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Avenue. The Abernathys don’t mean any harm by their flirtation with the underworld. But when they unknowingly call forth Satan himself, they create a gap in the universe. A gap which holds a pair of enormous gates—the gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just ...

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The Gates (Samuel Johnson Series #1)

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Overview

Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund Boswell are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween. Which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Avenue. The Abernathys don’t mean any harm by their flirtation with the underworld. But when they unknowingly call forth Satan himself, they create a gap in the universe. A gap which holds a pair of enormous gates—the gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out…

Can one small boy defeat evil? Can he harness the power of science, faith and love to save the world as we know it?

Bursting with imagination and impossible to put down, The Gates is about the pull between good and evil, physics and fantasy. It is about a quirky and eccentric boy who is impossible not to love, and the unlikely cast of characters who give him the strength to stand up to a demonic power. Like Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Gates manages to recreate for grownups that magical and scary world of childhood that we’ve all left behind but so love to visit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this frothy fantasy thriller from bestseller Connolly (The Book of Lost Things), 11-year-old Samuel Johnson witnesses an inadvertent intersection of science and the supernatural while trick-or-treating at the Abernathy household in Biddlecombe, England. Something nasty reaches through an atomically engineered portal to Hades and possesses four suburban sorcerers. From that point on, Samuel finds himself battling hordes of invading demons and desperately trying to convince disbelieving adults that the impending end of the world is not a fancy of his overactive imagination. Connolly plays this potentially spooky scenario strictly for laughs, larding the narrative with droll jokes, humorous asides and the slapstick pratfalls of Nurd, an amusingly incompetent subdemon whom Samuel ultimately befriends. Though billed as “an adult book for children,” this light fantasy will strike even adult readers as divertingly whimsical. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
An 11-year-old boy, his dachshund and an outcast demon must stop hell on Earth. At their most primal levels, science and fantasy are both about that which might be. In his second novel aimed at both younger readers and open-minded older ones, Connolly (The Book of Lost Things, 2006, etc.) pushes both disciplines to their limits with a hilarious story about a battle between good and evil. Our hero is Samuel Johnson of Biddlecombe, who comes across evil incarnate simply because it happens to live next door. The Abernathys of 666 Crowley Avenue use a mysterious black book to open a tentative portal between this mortal coil and the gates of hell, behind which lurks The Great Malevolence ("The Beast, Satan, etc," as he signs his correspondence), eager to launch an invasion. His chance comes when some escaped energy from the infamous Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland pokes a hole in the proverbial time-space continuum. Sound wild? It is, even before Samuel is attacked by the malevolent Darkness, finds a genuine monster under his bed, and the dead return to life. The book's best invention is Nurd, the obnoxious, self-appointed "Scourge of the Five Deities," who was banished to a remote corner of hell. Falling through a rift, the reluctant demon soon discovers the joys of hanging out with humanity. "Ooooh, that's good," Nurd says, scarfing down a jelly bean. "That's very good. Fluffy. Jelly beans. Big metal things that move fast. What a world you live in!" Wielding a healthy dose of real-life physics and historical facts, Connolly has huge fun playing with the conventions of science and magic, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Learning to walk the fine line between fantasy and reality, heemploys a lighter touch than in previous work, and a new infusion of humor is also welcome. Any reader who appreciates the imaginative fantasy of Neil Gaiman or the gentle wit of Christopher Moore will find a kindred spirit here.
Children's Literature - Maggie L. Schrock
Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, embark on a journey to save the world. It all starts when they try trick-or-treating on October 28th, and end up accidentally witnessing their neighbors performing a strange ritual in their basement. The Abernathy's unwittingly contact the Underworld, opening a portal for demons to enter our world, and giving up their bodies to these demons. The new Mrs. Abernathy sees Samuel in the window and begins a lengthy attempt at ridding the world of him. Since no one will believe what Samuel witnessed, he is left to figure things out on his own. Finally, after telling his two best friends, Maria and Tom, what happened, they decide to try and stop the demons from taking over our world. In the process, Samuel meets and befriends a demon, Nurd, who haphazardly ends up on Earth. Nurd becomes Samuel's confidant, informing him of the "who's who" in the Underworld. As the gates open wider, more and more terrifying demons are flooding Samuel's small town. Believing that "The Great Malevolence" taking over the world would be a bad thing, Nurd automatically agrees to help Samuel. With Nurd's help, Samuel, Boswell, Maria, and Tom manage to close the Gates of Hell before The Great Malevolence can pass through, and in the process, send all the demons back to the Underworld. A cute story about the power of friendship, readers will enjoy experiencing Samuel's journey. Scientific vocabulary makes it perfect for Sci-Fi fans, but difficult for struggling readers. The inclusion of footnotes offers interesting, often comical, additions to the plot. Reviewer: Maggie L. Schrock
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442300606
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Series: Samuel Johnson Series , #1
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 6 CDs, 7 hrs
  • Sales rank: 1,288,580
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 5.75 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John Connolly is the author of The Wrath of Angels, The Burning Soul, The Book of Lost Things, and Bad Men, among many others. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and lives in Dublin, Ireland. For more information, see his website at JohnConnollyBooks.com, or follow him on Twitter @JConnollyBooks.

Biography

John Connolly was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1968 and has, at various points in his life, worked as a journalist, a barman, a local government official, a waiter and a dogsbody at Harrods department store in London. He studied English in Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University, subsequently spending five years working as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times newspaper, to which he continues to contribute.

His first novel, Every Dead Thing, was published in 1999, and introduced the character of Charlie Parker, a former policeman hunting the killer of his wife and daughter. Dark Hollow followed in 2000. The third Parker novel, The Killing Kind, was published in 2001, with The White Road following in 2002. In 2003, John published his fifth novel - and first stand-alone book - Bad Men. In 2004, Nocturnes, a collection of novellas and short stories, was added to the list, and 2005 marked the publication of the fifth Charlie Parker novel, The Black Angel.

John Connolly is based in Dublin but divides his time between his native city and the United States, where each of his novels has been set.

Author biography courtesy of Atria Books.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating facts gleaned from our interview with Connolly:

"I once worked as a debt collector, although I didn't know it at the time. I was just delivering the letters for a courier company, and only discovered they were final notices when a little man chased me out of his sawmill with an ax."

"I did my graduate thesis on the first closure of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, during the course of which I a) was involved in a car crash on the Gaza Strip, which provided the residents with their entertainment for the day; b) was imprisoned briefly by Egyptian immigration officials, an experience I can heartily advise everyone to avoid; and c) discovered that I was a worse photographer than a writer, as none of my pictures came out."

"While interviewing my idol, James Lee Burke, for The Irish Times, I managed to get lost in the Rattlesnake Wilderness while out walking with Burke. His dogs found me. Eventually."

"I can cook a pretty good Cajun meal. I know a bit about wine, but only South African wine." "I love going to the movies, but think cell phones have made it a less enjoyable experience than before. In fact, I think cell phones have made life that little bit less bearable, and I can't imagine how awful it will be when people can use them on aeroplanes. In the last couple of books I've written, people have died terrible deaths because of their fascination with cell phones. I always feel a little calmer after I've killed someone in print."

"Rather embarrassingly, the only pseudonym I've used is a woman's name. Earlier this year, one of the editors at Hodder Ireland, the Irish arm of my U.K. publisher, announced that she was putting together a book of stories, entitled Moments, for tsunami relief, with all of the contributions to be written by female writers. She asked if I might be interested in submitting a story under a pseudonym, just to see if anyone would spot the interloper. I agreed to try, although admittedly there was alcohol taken at the time and had she asked me to swim naked down the Amazon with ‘Pirahna Food' written on my back I would probably have agreed to that as well. The story was called ‘The Cycle' and appeared under the pseudonym ‘Laura Froom' in the book, which was the name of the vampire in one of the short stories in my Nocturnes collection. So there: my secret shame has been revealed."

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    1. Hometown:
      Dublin, Ireland
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 31, 1968
    2. Place of Birth:
      Dublin, Ireland
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Trinity College Dublin, 1992; M.A. in Journalism, Dublin City University, 1993
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

IIn Which the Universe Forms, Which Seems Like a Very Good Place to Start

IN THE BEGINNING, ABOUT 13.7 billion years ago, to be reasonably precise, there was a very, very small dot.1 The dot, which was hot and incredibly heavy, contained everything that was, and everything that ever would be, all crammed into the tiniest area possible, a point so small that it had no dimensions at all. Suddenly, the dot, which was under enormous pressure due to all that it contained, exploded, and it duly scattered everything that was, or ever would be, across what was now about to become the Universe. Scientists call this the “Big Bang,” although it wasn’t really a big bang because it happened everywhere, and all at once.

Just one thing about that “age of the universe” stuff. There are people who will try to tell you that the Earth is only about 10,000 years old; that humans and dinosaurs were around at more or less the same time, a bit like in the movies Jurassic Park and One Million Years B.C.; and that evolution, the change in the inherited traits of organisms passed from one generation to the next, does not, and never did, happen. Given the evidence, it’s hard not to feel that they’re probably wrong. Many of them also believe that the universe was created in seven days by an old chap with a beard, perhaps with breaks for tea and sandwiches. This may be true but, if it was created in this way, they were very long days: about two billion years long for each, give or take a few million years, which is a lot of sandwiches.

Anyway, to return to the dot, let’s be clear on something, because it’s very important. The building blocks of everything that you can see around you, and a great deal more that you can’t see at all, were blasted from that little dot at a speed so fast that, within a minute, the universe was a million billion miles in size and still expanding, so the dot was responsible for bringing into being planets and asteroids; whales and budgerigars; you, and Julius Caesar, and Elvis Presley.

And Evil.

Because somewhere in there was all the bad stuff as well, the stuff that makes otherwise sensible people hurt one another. There’s a little of it in all of us, and the best that we can do is to try not to let it govern our actions too often.

But just as the planets began to take on a certain shape, and the asteroids, and the whales, and the budgerigars, and you, so too, in the darkest of dark places, Evil took on a form. It did so while the residue of the Big Bang spread across the Universe,2 while the earth was cooling, while tectonic plates shifted, until, at last, life appeared, and Evil found a target for its rage.

Yet it could not reach us, for the Universe was not ordered in its favor, or so it seemed. But the thing in the darkness was very patient. It stoked the fires of its fury, and it waited for a chance to strike …

1. Scientists call it the “singularity.” People who are religious might call it the mote in God’s eye. Some scientists will say you can’t believe in the singularity and the idea of a god, or gods. Some religious people will try to tell you the same thing. Still, you can believe in the singularity and a god, if you like. It’s entirely up to you. One requires evidence, the other faith. They’re not the same thing, but as long as you don’t get the two mixed up, then everything should be fine.

2. In fact, about 1 percent of the static that sometimes appears on your television set is a relic of the Big Bang and, if your eyes were sensitive to microwave light instead of just visible light, then the sky at night would appear white instead of black, because it continues to glow from the heat of the Big Bang. Oh, and because atoms are so small, and are constantly recycled, every breath you take contains atoms that were once breathed by Julius Caesar and Elvis Presley. So a little bit of you formerly ruled Rome, and sang “Blue Suede Shoes.”

© 2009 John Connolly

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 99 )
Rating Distribution

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(46)

4 Star

(32)

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(16)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 99 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    If you're a Monty Python fan or love "Hitchhiker's Guide" then you'll love "The Gates"

    This was a really fun book. I had read Connoly's "The Book of Lost Things" (another great book) and was excited to read "The Gates". However, where TBoLT was dark and introspective "The Gates" was surprisingly upbeat and funny (given that it is about a boy trying to prevent the gates of Hell from opening and leading to Hell on earth). This is the kind of book I could envision Monty Python making into a great movie in their heyday. It is a quirky, quick read that has surprisingly engaging characters and a funny plot. I highly recommend it.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    This book had me laughing so much. It was one of the best reads I've had in a long time. Connoly's acerbic sense of humor reminds one of old Monty Python. I will now proceed to read everything the man has penned!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Thoroughly enjoyable

    Clever, creative, and highly entertaining. This book will put a smile on your face, and have you laughing out loud!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2010

    Fun to read

    As an adult, I found this reading to be quite entertaining, The story was good and the writer's imagination was really great. Very entertaining reading.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2011

    Good entertaining read!!!

    This book was entertaining to say the least....hard to explain, but passed the time anyway.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This lighthearted fantasy is an amusing tale of good vs. evil in a world of cynical disbelievers

    Three days before Halloween in Biddlecombe, England, eleven year old Samuel Johnson of 501 Crowley Rd. accompanied by Boswell the Dachshund goes trick or treating to get a head start against the competition. At 666 Crowley Rd. Samuel debates Mr. Abernathy as to who or what or why they are trick or treating three days early than the official date.

    Inside 666, using subatomic physics kicked, punted or booted (not being a scientist not sure which is the vernacular) inside a particle accelerator, Abernathy and three's company create two giant gates that prove to be a portal between earth and Hades. All hell has broken out on the planet as the first time since the original dot 13.7 billion years or so ago exploded into the Big Bang, demons cross over in what seems to be the beginning of the small crunch. Samuel the warrior kid fights the horde but fails to persuade adults including his parents that a demonic invasion has begun.

    This lighthearted fantasy is an amusing tale of good vs. evil in a world of cynical disbelievers. Samuel and Boswell battle the adversary almost alone as ironically their only ally is a low life Nurd the incompetent sub-demon. Targeting young adults with puns, hyperbole, and Abbot-Costello slapstick starting with John Connolly's version of who's on first, older readers who enjoy jocularity in their quantum physics will appreciate the tweener and the canine save the world; although some might wonder why bother.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!

    Wow was this book stupid. I don't even want to explain why it was so stupid. Not even worth my time. Not even a nice demon named Nurd could save this one!!!

    2 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    John Connolly has done it again.

    I love this story! It will be added to my annual Halloween reading. It is such good fun, it would be perfect for reading aloud to the whole family. I have had the privilege of seeing Connolly at a number of author events and of all his books, this comes closest to the personality he displays - charming, witty, imaginative and highly entertaining. I love the Charlie Parker books but I hope he also writes more novels like this one and The Book of Lost Things. I highly recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2013

    6/5 Stars!

    This is one of the funniest and most entertaining boks i have ever read! The only book better than this one is the sequel! If you like witty and sarcasric humor, this is your dream book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2012

    Fun, quirky, entertaining, felt like an off the wall bed time st

    Fun, quirky, entertaining, felt like an off the wall bed time story.... I truly enjoy Connoly's humor in his work! A good and easy read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2010

    Great for Pratchett fans!

    I was sitting in a waiting room, with strangers. And I was silently giggling so hard that someone asked what was the matter.

    I ended by reading some of the passages aloud, and causing giggling among the other people.

    It ended with us discussing the likelihood of angels doing the foxtrot on the head of a pin....

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2013

    LOVEEEE IT! I read it twice

    Super funny interesting and for all ages

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  • Posted August 27, 2013

    This is one of the funniest books I have ever read. It reminde

    This is one of the funniest books I have ever read.

    It reminded me of Douglas Adams, Eion Colfer, and so many other great authors' books. Read this and then read the follow-up--"The Infernals". You will not be disappointed!

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  • Posted January 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Gates

    First thing first: The Gates is not as good as The Book of Lost Things. If you pick it up hoping to walk away with the same satisfaction Book of Lost Things gave you, you will be sorely disappointed. That being said, it is still a good book. It is chock full of charm, humor and heart. The human characters are sadly a little bland. Samuel is supposed to be odd, but doesn't seem too odd really. Arguably, the demons have the most character; not necessarily a bad thing. The plot is very generic and very predictable. You can pretty much guess what is going to happen next throughout the book and usually you will be correct. So far what I've said hardly seems to be the type of thing to inspire a potential buyer to purchase The Gates, so I should clarify that I am a little jaded by the fact that I HAVE read The Book of Lost Things and can't help but compare the two a little. The Gates really is funny and there are little bits of wisdom inserted into the story that really make it enjoyable. The last thing I should say is that this book seems to have been written for kids (yet Barnes and Noble stocked it in the Mystery section...odd). Connolly is actively self monitoring throughout the story and makes several statements directed at what he clearly believes is a young audience. Certainly not as deep as The Book of Lost Things, but well he can't just rewrite the same book and this one is still good.

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  • Posted December 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A enjoyable book to come out during October.

    I was very surprised to see this book comming John Connolly and to me it was as nice a present under the Christmas tree. I found the story both thought provoking and amusing. I nice combination.

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    Wit and Imagination are a good combination

    John Connolly took some time off from writing his Charlie Parker novels and has now been able to expose a whole new audience to his brilliant style of prose.

    This book is very imaginative without being over the top in gore. Written so that children and adults could enjoy it, I dare Disney to pick it up for a movie.

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  • Posted November 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I was LMAO so hard and so much i thought i would never stop

    i dont know where 2 start. i thought this book was gonna be a horror book when i read the jacket. turned out it misread it ---- it turned outb b n hilarious. i had people at work wonderin what is wrong w/me. i began laffin when young samuel johnson goes out on an early trick or treating w/his dog boswell to 666 crowley road & Mr Abernathy opened the door. that did it 4 me. thats where all the laffin began. there was moments that i was laffin so hard that i couldnt stop ---- at all. turned out my favorite character was Nurd, the scourge of the 5 deities. just dont let him drive. oh & the character under sams bed had me lmao when i got 2 that part --- just the thought has me already laffin. the things that nurd did was 1 of the few things that got me started (laffin). if only those people at work knew what they were missin out on. this is my 1st book by john connelly & i loved it. i went thru it in 1 day. talk bout hard 2 put down thats what this book was 4 me. i dont know the last time i laffed like that due 2 a book. its great 2 read anytime of the year & perfect 4 halloween.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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