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The Gates Hardcover – October 6, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 252 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.

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.

Featured Author: John Connolly
Read an excerpt from John Connolly's The Gates, and explore more from the bestselling author at Amazon's John Connolly Page [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; 1st edition (October 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439172633
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439172636
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (252 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,430,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I would begin by saying that I've read as much of John Connolly's published work as found available. That includes: all of the Charlie Parker novels, The Book of Lost Things, and Nocturnes (Mister Connolly's outstanding anthology of short stories, of which the tale The New Daughter, from the short story of the same name, receives a retelling in the form of a soon to be released motion picture starring Kevin Costner and Ivana Banquero, the beguiling daughter in Pan's Labyrinth).

This stand alone novel is every bit as engrossing as the other tales involving Charlie Parker, erstwhile NYPD Detective and guilt ridden (while otherwise occupied) survivor of the butchery that claimed his wife and daughter. Thing is... this latest volume does not focus on the character of Charlie Parker so much as it concentrates on his friends, and sometime accomplices and cohorts, Louis and Angel.

Both of these characters figure large in novels concerning PI Charlie Parker. But not much has been issued by way of explaining their genesis (and especially Louis). All of that territory is covered in this distinct volume (and with barely so much as an utterance, and even less of a presence, of Charlie Parker).

To mention much of the story would be to mention a lot. Let's just say that it is a tale of menace and authority, and of retribution and reaction, and of hunters being hunted. There is much room here for betrayal and false starts turning into dead ends turning into blind corners, the likes of which you should be ever mindful of turning.

Bottom line is the fact that, as always, Mr. Connolly does not disappoint. He has a certain knack for providing lyricism midst chaos and with ever the ear for crisply delivered dialogue delivered as if it were being spoken directly.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before I say anything else, I will tell you that I am a great fan of Mr. Connolly's Charlie Parker series. In fact, I'm a huge fan of all of Mr. Connolly's writing. My fondness for his books stems from the simple fact that I have found them all incredibly satisfying reads. Not a one has ever disappointed me, and lest you think I'm a blindly enthusiastic fan, I'll tell you that I fully expected NOT to like this one as much as the others, or at least to like it for a whole slew of different reasons.

I'd read that this book was focused on Louis and Angel (Charlie Parker's homicidal, hilarious, homosexual "sidekicks"); I'd read that Parker played only a peripheral role here. So, being the huge Parker fan that I am, I wondered if I'd find this read as satisfying or as well-written when it focused on two people whose dark natures were, at least to me, so much more developed and hard to deny.

I needn't have worried. I finished it in record time and was well-pleased with the book as a whole.

Parker does indeed play a peripheral role. He probably appears in less than 1/6 of the book, and only in a reversal of his usual place in things. He's the Angel/Louis here. He's the one who comes in when trouble hits, but whose character is basically secondary throughout except as it affects other characters (in fact, he is referred to as "the Detective" throughout most of the pages upon which he appears, the result of being seen primarily through the eyes of Willie Brew).

The result of Parker's relative absence is a lighter book, even when it covers the darkest of topics. Parker, you see, might have his funny moments, but his is a tortured spirit.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Connolly is a most gifted writer and wordsmith. His Charlie Parker novels constitute one of the finest thriller series in existence today. His prose is sometimes so lyrical and so defining that I find myself rereading a sentence or paragraph just to marvel at his styling. He can establish mood, a sense of disquiet, peril, or supernatural unease with a few well turned phrases. His characterizations are always believable and fleshed within the context of the story. And his ability to build suspense and an impending sense of doom that is almost palpable to the reader is extraordinary.

"The Reapers" can be read as two parallel stories since there is a lot of jumping back and forth in time to relive past events that add context to the current storyline. As has been well established, this novel focuses heavily on Parker's "back-ups", Louis and Angel. One storyline develops the back-story on Louis and Angel which brings our appreciation for the deadly Louis to an even higher level; certainly they become more humanized and complete than ever in this novel.

The central plot deals with betrayals, double crosses, and the payment of blood debts in the violent world of professional assassins (Reapers). Louis' back story fills in gaps on his deadly past and portrays him as a much more formidable protagonist than even the regular Connolly reader would imagine. As usual, Connolly visits themes of loyalty (in many manifestations) and motivation in his unique and flawed characters. Ultimately several storylines intersect and Parker and friends race to find and support their two imperiled allies.

I found this to be my favorite of the Charlie Parker novels even though Parker has only a small part to play in it.
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