Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Creeps - John Connolly

First line: "In a small terraced house in the English town of Biddlecombe, a birthday party was underway."

Just in time for Halloween, John Connolly's third book in his Samuel Johnson series is available in the United States. This is my first outing with Samuel and his little dog Boswell, and I was chastised for it in the book's footnotes (yes, really, footnotes--you'll love them!)

"An adventure described in The Infernals, available from all good bookshops and some bad ones. If you haven't read it, please find a copy and turn to the second footnote in Chapter One, which will wag a finger disapprovingly at you for picking up the later books in a series without first reading the earlier ones."

I will pick up The Infernals because I had so much fun with The Creeps! I also plan to push these books into the hands of my niece and nephew. The Creeps--the series--is really great fun for readers of all ages.

Samuel, Boswell and Lucy are attending the grand opening of a new toy shop taking over the long vacated Wreckit & Son's building. But an atmosphere of trouble is brewing everywhere, so what should be a joyous occasion has a foreboding air.

In the sweet shop that is actually a not-so-secret laboratory, the new tea boy is witnessing ghosts. Dan and his Dwarfs have been hired to work as elves at the opening of the Wreckit & Sons toy shop. And the Hilary Mould statue is moving from place to place throughout Biddlecombe. Add to that a voice in the wall of Wreckit & Sons and Crudford scouring the Multiverse for Mrs. Abernathy's atoms and you have the building blocks of an adventure suitable for Hell.

The Creeps is chock full of delightful elements. I mentioned the footnotes but it also has playful chapter titles, illustrations and plenty of smart humor. From metaphors as witty as

"...said Professor Stefan in the tone of a man who has just discovered a large hole in his bucket of patience, and is now considering hitting someone over the head with the bucket,..."

to descriptions as vivid as

"'What we're looking for is a big, black, rotten heart-shaped thingy filled with nastiness.'"

the writing is both intelligent and whimsical. And underneath that whimsy is a fantastic depth of character and plot. With The Creeps, there's no having to choose which element of story you prefer because both are so deftly defined. The ideas of the Multiverse and Hell and the alignment of everything are complex and intriguing. While the relationships aren't confined to humans. They go beyond to all kind of beings, acknowledging the plausibility of compassion and empathy between those who aren't exactly the same.

While October is a perfect time for The Creeps to come out, and it would make a great treat for your favorite ghost or goblin's Halloween bag, it's a fantastically wonderful reading experience any time. And yes, Earth may have "become unmoored from reality" but really, can't we all benefit from a little unmooring from time to time?

The Creeps is available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-1476757094) from Emily Bestler Books (Atria) and also on unabridged audio (ISBN: 978-1442368705) from Simon and Schuster Audio, narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds.


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