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The Gates (The Samuel Johnson Series) Paperback – August 30, 2011

147 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Samuel Johnson Series

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Editorial Reviews

From 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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics compared John Connolly to two first-rate children's authors (Eoin Colfer and Madeline L'Engle) and two great satirists (Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams—whom many of us started reading in middle school anyway). The Gates, they said, displays the wonder and wit of the works of each of this impressive quartet while also having a personality of its own. Reviewers were especially impressed with the explanations of quantum mechanics, wormholes, black holes, and the Hadron Collider—which lent more scientific substance to the story. While noting a few spots that made the plot drag, critics generally recommended the book to both children and adults. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Series: The Samuel Johnson Series (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144242933X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442429338
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1968 and have, at various points in his life, worked as a journalist, a barman, a local government official, a waiter and a "gofer" at Harrods department store in London. I 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 I continue to contribute, although not as often as I would like. I still try to interview a few authors every year, mainly writers whose work I like, although I've occasionally interviewed people for the paper simply because I thought they might be quirky or interesting. All of those interviews have been posted to my website,

I was working as a journalist when I began work on my first novel. Like a lot of journalists, I think I entered the trade because I loved to write, and it was one of the few ways I thought I could be paid to do what I loved. But there is a difference between being a writer and a journalist, and I was certainly a poorer journalist than I am a writer (and I make no great claims for myself in either field.) I got quite frustrated with journalism, which probably gave me the impetus to start work on the novel. That book, Every Dead Thing, took about five years to write and was eventually published in 1999. It introduced the character of Charlie Parker, a former policeman hunting the killer of his wife and daughter. Dark Hollow, the second Parker novel, followed in 2000. The third Parker novel, The Killing Kind, was published in 2001, with The White Road following in 2002. In 2003, I published my 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. In 2006, The Book of Lost Things, my first non-mystery novel, was published.

Charlie Parker has since appeared in five additional novels: The Unquiet, The Reapers (where he plays a secondary role to his associates, Louis and Angel), The Lovers, The Whisperers, and The Burning Soul. The eleventh Charlie Parker novel, The Wrath of Angels, will be available in the UK in August 2012 and in the US in January 2013.

The Gates launched the Samuel Johnson series for younger readers in 2009, followed by Hell's Bells (UK)/The Infernals (US) in 2011. A third Samuel Johnson novel should be finished in 2013.

I am also the co-editor, with fellow author Declan Burke, of Books to Die For, an anthology of essays from the world's top crime writers in response to the question, "Which book should all lovers of crime fiction read before they die?" Books to Die For is available in the UK as of August 2012, and will be available in the US in October 2012.

I am based in Dublin but divide my time between my native city and the United States, where each of my novels has been set.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Ellen C. Lamb on October 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If Neil Gaiman and Christopher Moore were to collaborate on a 21st-century version of "The Phantom Tollbooth," they MIGHT come up with something as brilliant, hilarious and purely enchanting as Connolly's first novel for young people. Out for an early Halloween walk one night, young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, see the neighbors conducting a ritual that accidentally opens the gates of Hell -- just a little, enough for the Large Hadron Collider to start sending energy across the multiverse in a way that can't be good for human beings. I found myself reading passages aloud to my dog, just because I wanted someone else to hear them.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Ruth B. Ingram on October 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Yes they did and out came one of the nastiest demons ever to walk the earth. Samuel and his dog Boswell were peeking through the basement window of the Abernathy's house while they and 2 friends were summoning the great evil one and got more that they desired. Of course, this has a little bit to do with the particle accelerator charging up in another country but a bit flung off the accelerator and ended up in the Abernathy's basement. Now that the gates of Hell are open it will eventually fall to poor little Samuel and his little dog Boswell to save the world. Samuel is a great little kid, bright, somewhat nerdy, compassionate and caring. Boswell is pretty neat too and oh yes, there is also a demon lord named Nurd who is pretty darn neat himself, once you get to know him.
All in all this is a very well written si-fi, fantasy, mystery that will keep you well entertained while you read it and give you a sense of delight that will stay with you for a while.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Josh Mauthe on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Connolly himself describes The Gates as a "adult's novel written for children," but I have to say that I enjoyed the book every bit as much as any kid I know would, if not more. Much lighter in tone than Connolly's previous YA foray, The Book of Lost Things: A Novel, The Gates revolves around a young boy named Samuel Johnson who spies his neighbors undergoing a ritual to open the gates of Hell...and succeeding. Despite the horror novel feel of the plot, The Gates is definitely a kids book, with a tone that feels inspired by Adams or Pratchett, but a story that feels somewhere between Gaiman and Barker's The Thief of Always: A Fable. As always with a Connolly book, one of the best aspects of the book is the writing, and while the simpler prose eliminates some of Connolly's poetic asides, the sheer inventiveness of it all - from the namedropped demons of bad punctuation to the overwhelming menagerie of creatures from horrific to pathetic - is a complete joy. What's more, it's clear that Connolly is having a blast with this, and the joy is infectious; I laughed out loud several times, and just loved every page of it. Dabbling in everything from quantum theory to theology, all while telling a great story, The Gates is a great read, and definitely not just for kids.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Abinante on October 24, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Gates: A Novel by John Connolly was adorable, hilarious, charming, intelligent, witty, and certainly enjoyable to read. A great book! I couldn't really tell that it was young adult, I found the humorous writing style to be similar, although less vulgar (perhaps because this is a YA book), than more adult-oriented authors such as Christopher Moore and Tom Holt.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys science, religion, evil bitch Hell gods, humor, and logical conclusions. All of the characters were entertaining and it made the book a very quick read.

The prose, despite being written for young adults, flows well as you read. The humor and storyline make the simplistic writing less obvious, allowing you to pay more attention to the story as it develops rather than the writing itself. This is a book that children and adults alike can enjoy. Darker themes, such as divorce and death, are prevalent in the book, but are dealt with in a way that is acceptable for a wide range of readers.

The Gates was full of some great stuff and is written in a light hearted manner than makes everything funny, even when Connolly is conveying complicated scientific processes.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Unlike John Connolly's Charlie Parker novels, THE GATES is arguably a book for young adults. But that shouldn't deter any "old" adults from picking it up, as they almost certainly will enjoy it as much as his other works. The hero of the piece is, indeed, a youngster on the cusp of adolescence. Samuel Johnston lives with his mother in the town of Biddlecombe, England. His dad has recently moved out of the house and traded up, so to speak, on female companions, demonstrating that he is on the cusp of adolescence as well. His mom, understandably, is a bit preoccupied and upset about this state of affairs, leaving young Samuel and his dog, a dachshund named Boswell, on their own.

Two simultaneous events --- one occurring locally, the other far away --- change things for Samuel and Boswell. In Europe, a group of scientists are futzing around with a particle accelerator in the hopes of discovering something that is often referred to as the "God particle." At the same time, the Abernathys and the Renfields, two couples in Samuel's neighborhood, are fooling around with a nasty little book that Mrs. Abernathy found in a local bookstore. Neither the scientists nor Samuel's neighbors really know what they're doing, and as a result of their tomfoolery, they unleash demons into our world. Only Samuel, two of his friends, and the valiant Boswell know what is going on. Initially, they can't get anyone to believe them, though that certainly changes once a couple of flying skulls, a reluctant demon named Nurd, and a horrible bishop who has been dead for several hundred years all get into the act. There is, of course, a nasty battle between good and evil, as often happens with such things, but the conclusion to said battle might not be the conclusion you were expecting.
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