Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Gates by John Connolly, Hodder £12.99

This treat for any bright, enquiring child of ten or twelve or even older slipped through our net this autumn. Perhaps the review copy arrived late.

News that the scientists are about to restart the Hadron Collider sitting under the Swiss Alps makes this most enjoyable novel even more timely. John Connolly is known for his pretty tough (well nasty) adult detective novels but here brings all his considerable writing skills and views of the dark side of life to bear whilst writing a book which is wholly suitable for children. Perhaps not for those of a nervous disposition, but for all others.

The hero of the tale is a small boy called Samuel Johnson and his faithful dog Boswell - and yes the novel is full of those sort of wordy jokes. Samuel is the sort of boy who drives teachers mad but who is wholly logical and endearing. The problem is with his neighbours and the effect of the Collider opening up a portal to hell. The book is littered with wonderful footnotes (pace Jonathan Stroud) giving comments on the story and helping with satanism and quantum physics for example. There is a lot of humour, some terror and plenty for a bright, enquiring child to think about and enjoy. Excellent winter reading, a real page-turner.
Enid Stephenson

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