Category Archives: Children

The Infernals/Hells Bells – John Connolly (Samuel Johnson#2)

Samuel’s success at closing the gate to Hell didn’t leave him quite in the position one would hope for.  Instead of being hailed a conquering hero for sussing out the plot and rallying people to the cause, they quietly believe he bears some responsibility.  They have done all they can to forget that demons descended on Biddlecombe.  When they see Samuel, however, they remember.  This makes him partially to blame in their thoughts.   If you have not read ‘The Gates’ it’s the wonderful start to the tale of Samuel Johnson vs. the Devil series. Everything started because Samuel and his faithful dachshund, Boswell, went trick-or-treating on October 28 when he was eleven.  He was maximizing his candy gathering potential when he interrupted a party of bored adults playing with the occult.  It all went downhill from there.

Samuel is thirteen now, and infatuated with the girl every little boy falls in love with.  He’s not spoken to her yet.  He’s still working up the courage. Aside from regular teenage worries he keeps seeing Mrs. Abernathy in the reflections of a puddle or mirror.  He just catches her out of the corner of his eye.  He has no doubt being the focus of an extremely powerful demon with a grudge is not a good thing.  During this book he is transported through a portal to Hell.  Luckily, he has company.  In trying to obtain Samuel a few others were brought to Hell by mistake. England has its own devilishly mischievous creatures.  Mr. Merrywether’s dwarves, an acting troupe of four little men, are pleasantly troublesome. The badly behaved crew is always in conflict with the law and once in Hell they give the demons just as much hassle.

We get to be reunited with “Nurd – The Scourge of Five Deities, Wormwood, and some of our other endearing demonic friends.  John Connolly did not disappoint with this sequel.  He includes the footnotes I loved in the first book.  There is a lot of scientific information in this and the last book.  The footnotes allow for some humorous/clever explanation.  It has been likened to Douglas Adam’s humor in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’  I don’t disagree, but Connolly has his own voice and style.  I saved this for Halloween because I believed part of it was set on October 31st, like ‘The Gates,’ but that was a misguided notion.  The third book, however, is set during Christmas time.  I will be putting ‘The Creeps’ in the queue at the end of November.

‘The Infernals,’ like ‘The Gates’ audio version is narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds and he does an amazing job.  Do not read this book even  if you only occasionally dabble in audio books.  He is paired perfectly with the material and, in my opinion, adds to the experience of the book.  I’m sure reading it will not disappoint, but I highly encourage you to listen to this book not only for, but also specifically for, his interpretation of Mr. Merrywether’s Elves/Dwarves.

It is a middle grade book, however, most of the people I know who have read and enjoyed it are adults.  There is much discussion regarding Hell and demons.  This may have you questioning whether eleven and thirteen year olds should be reading it.  The UK title is ‘Hell’s Bells’ and was changed for the US publication in part because of this concern.  It is not frightening or inappropriate.  There is no profanity included in it unless you count ‘Hell’ as profanity.  It does not comment upon religion in a negative or positive light.  I, personally, would not have a problem with nine year olds reading it, but I am not offended by Hell or demons.  I include this so you have some context in determining how family friendly it is.


The Enchanted Forest – Ida Rentoul Outhwaite


The Enchanted Forest is a childhood favorite that has stoo d the test of time and remains an adult favorite.  I remember having it read to me at an early age, me curled up against my dad, while he read it in his deep voice making the characters come alive.  He would have to pause frequently as I marveled at the illustrations.  They are works of art and I wanted to explore every piece of them.



The story is about Anne, a young girl, who gets thrown from her horse and she is lead by her tame rabbit Potty, who at night transforms into his faerie form, through the enchanted forest.  This is an exploration of her beloved forest in a view she hasn’t seen before and she meets talking animals, faerie, witches and goblins.


mmm magic!!



I received this book as a child and to this day the illustrations are imprinted in my mind of what magic and faerie are. It is a beautiful story. Ida Rentoul Outhwaite is a master artist, even if you do not know her by name or read her books, I guarantee you have seen her work on a card.  I was surprised to find she is not more well known by name.  I had to search and search on google, amazon, goodreads, etc before I found this book (because I also did not remember her name – just the book title.)  She is an amazing artist who worked with her husband on several children’s books in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  Her artwork details subjects of the forest, faeries, and magic.

I recommend this book for every child and I was dismayed to see this book is out of print and extremely rare. It actually threw me into a whirlwind trying to find mine. If you read my about page, I have many backbreaking boxes of books that I don’t have shelf room for, I started opening my boxes and causing a mess of catastrophic proportions after I didn’t find it on my shelves.  I can’t explain why its not on my shelves, but finally I found it and breathed a sigh of relief that my childhood friend had been found.   That being said, if you can obtain a copy of this book it has the ability to awaken magic in any child or adult.  I would urge anyone to buy this.  The story is beautiful but the illustration work is unforgettable.  This is one that can only be done justice in book format.

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