The Infernals | John Connolly

  • The Infernals © 2012
  • Atria Books: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
  • 311 pages

I’ve thought about reading more Connolly ever since The Book of Lost Things. In Lost Things he treats fairy-tale motifs with terrifying realism. In The Infernals, he travels the opposite direction, treating the idea of Hell as a big joke.

The Infernals is the story of how Samuel Johnson is threatened by one of the arch devils of hell (who happens to wear a blonde wig and has started hanging curtains in ‘her’ lair). The whole problem started in the previous book in the series, The Gates, where the CERN Collider accidentally opens a rift between earth and hell. Fortunately, you don’t have to read the first book in the series to follow this one.

Connolly’s dry sense of humour imbues every line, including the chapter titles (e.g. Chapter 1: “In Which We Find Ourselves in Hell, but Only Temporarily, So It’s Not All Bad News”). His wit particularly shines in the footnotes where he comments with wonderful sarcasm on the true stories that underlie some of the science fiction themes in the main text.

Despite his wickedly dry sense of humour, this book feels average. The characters are too flat to empathize with and the plot is too predictable to grab you. I place this in the same category as Terry Pratchett. Good for a laugh.

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