Two to Laugh and One to Fright

The Gates by John Connolly

In a Seemingly quaint and quiet neighborhood, a few neighbors come together to perform satanic rituals. Mr and Mrs. Abernathy are middle aged and bored with their lives, in an attempt to shake things up a bit they invite their friends over to try something new, and naturally the solution to boredom is Satanism. Not realizing their mistake, the Abernathys call upon a demon and put in motion the opening of the gates of hell. Through a dusty basement window Samuel Johnson, an eight-year-old odd ball, and his dachshund Boswell see everything. From then on Samuel is swept into a work full of shape shifting demons, monsters that have a taste for rose bushes, and some that dissolve when salted. He is forced to stop Armageddon with the help of his friends and Nurd, the scourge of Five Deities.

The reason I chose this book was for its ironic use of nontraditional characters. One of my favorite instances is the shape shifting demon. He is sent to scare Samuel off his quest but does not have much experience with young boys and ends up changing into something that resembles a spider with floppy donkey ears. Then there is the character Nurd, he is a demon that thinks himself a king though the rest of the  underworld sees him as a pain, and a misfit. He is forced into our world and while trying to take it over is immediately forced out again by a two ton truck. John Connolly is great at installing hilarity into these characters but also creates a sense of doom in the world of his book.

Gil’s All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez

Duke and Earl are old friends on their way across Rockford county when they happen across Gil’s all Night Diner. Duke is a burly beer belly sporting werewolf, and Earl is a scrawny balding vampire. They stop only for dinner but when Loretta, the owner of Gil’s, propositions Duke to get rid of her zombie problem, he accepts. Unknown to the main characters, a teenager who calls herself Mistress Lilith has been raising the dead in Rockford to do her petty bidding . She’ll do anything to get Loretta out of the diner, even if it means the end of the world.

Some of my favorite moments are the inclusion of zombie cows, ghouls that speak proper English, and the ghost girl Cathy and her ghost dog, Napoleon. From wisecracking zombies, to the ancient occult language of Pig Latin, A. Lee Martinez finds many ways to poke fun at the horror genre.

It by Stephen King

And last but not least one of my favorite Stephen King books, or rather the one I find most frightening: It. It’s October 1958 in a town in Maine, called Derry. Young Bill Denbrough’s mother and father are nothing but a sad shell of their former selves. A year before they were happy, a year before they paid attention, a year before their younger son George was still alive. In the beginning of the story George comes across a gutter and the reader is introduced to Pennywise, a demonic sewer dwelling clown. It’s needless to say that it does not end well for George and in the aftermath of his death the children of Derry are driven together. All have their own stories to tell and the horrible history of Derry unravels through the tales of seven adolescents. Seven kids; Bill, Ben, Beverly, Eddie, Mike, Richie, and Stan set out to kill the evil that is hidden in Derry.

It’s odd how a title so simply named can hold so many complexities and horrors. During my childhood Pennywise was my personal boogie man, watching Tim Curry dance around in a clown suit would scare any child, but it seems to me that once I read the book the TV movie paled in comparison. There are some harder subjects withing this book, such as racism, but it is worth it to bear through to the end.

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