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.