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Scares and science set to collide

I forgot to buy the nephew a pressie!

You need The Gates, by John Connolly, a magical tale that will scare the hell out of the poor child.

Don't want that, do I?

Ah, but it does it in a cosy, Englishy kind of way, and on the road to redemption the little one will learn lots of physics.

Do tell.

You know the way many children love unusual facts? This is riddled with physics, told in exactly the right confiding whisper.

And is there a story?

Indeed there is. The Large Hadron Collider and Satan have got together, in the unlikeliest pairing since 50 Cent said he wanted to take Susan Boyle clubbing.


Or one of the Evil One's other trade names. Unfortunately, as the residents of 666 Crowley Avenue dance in a pentacle as the Hadron Collider is doing its thing, there is a watcher.

Our dashing hero?

Exactly. Young Samuel Johnston and his trusty dachshund Boswell are peering through the window, having received a cold refusal trick-or-treating.

How young?

Eleven; young enough to have a babysitter, the unspeakable Stephanie. Lots of evil in this story. Including the ex-residents of Number 666, who have been gobbled up and replaced by decaying versions of themselves.

Eee -- don't want to give the nephew nightmares.

If he's a delicate, nervy child, steer clear. If he's the usual gruesome-loving little boy, go for it. Adult thriller author John Connolly struck the Dahl note in this kids' book.

How does it end?

That would be telling. I can reveal that Johnston is a misunderstood hero in the tradition of Camus, and that a secondary demon, Nurd, is sulkily ready to thwart the plots of the Great Malevolence.

Worth buying?

I'd give you 666 to 66 that the nephew will love it.