Book Review: The Creeps by John Connolly

Posted April 4, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: The Creeps by John ConnollyThe Creeps by John Connolly
Genres: Humorous, Middle Grade, Urban Fantasy
Published by Emily Bestler Books on October 22, 2013
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library


Samuel Johnson’s life seems to have finally settled down—after all, he’s still got the company of his faithful dachshund, Boswell, and his bumbling demon friend Nurd; he has foiled the dreaded forces of darkness not once but twice; and, he’s now dating the lovely Lucy Highmore.

But things in the little English town of Biddlecombe rarely run smoothly for long. Shadows are gathering in the skies; a black heart of pure evil is bubbling with revenge; and, it rather looks as if the Multiverse is about to come to an end, starting with Biddlecombe. When a new toy shop’s opening goes terrifyingly awry, Samuel must gather a ragtag band of dwarfs, policemen, and a very polite monster to face down the greatest threat the Multiverse has ever known, not to mention assorted vampires, a girl with an unnatural fondness for spiders, and highly flammable unfriendly elves.

Also by this author: The Gates, The Infernals

Third and last in the Samuel Johnson vs. the Devil urban fantasy series for, technically, middle-grade readers, and based in Biddlecombe, England.

My Take
Oh, oh, oh, oh…I so loved this series. It was so incredibly funny with everything a middle-grade boy could adore with fart jokes, poo jokes, and squashy eyeball jokes interspersed with quite intelligent jokes poking fun at most of the social conventions. That Connolly cracks me up left, right, and center! Although, ahem, I think Connolly cheats. By making this a middle-grade novel, it doesn’t have to make any sort of sense in an adult world, and he definitely veers off, doing loop-the-loops as he soars through this silly and ridiculous world in which friendship and loyalty are so very important. Almost as important as taking the piss.

Read everything. The chapter titles, the footnotes, and oh yeah, the words between the chapter titles. If you aren’t chuckling every few paragraphs, you must be reading the wrong book. One of the kids must’a snuck the real John Connolly off and left you with some sober tome.

Footnote 38. “In The Gates, Samuel discovered the Abernathys and their friends trying to summon up demons in the cellar of a house. I really should be charging you extra for this.”

Footnote 39: “Take that, critics. You thought I was just making all this stuff up as I went along, but there was a plan, I tell you, a plan! (Cue maniacal laughter, and a gibbering henchman calling me…”

What could be the harm in a toy story opening? Haven’t seen Chuckie, hmmm? It’s a desire for revenge gone out of Mrs. Abernathy’s control. It’s too bad she keeps miscalculating Samuel and his friends. Lovely for us, though, *grin* If we can keep our spirits, er, hopes, up through Miss Muffet and her spiders, the waddling eyeballs, and the knife-wielding dolls, that is.

Oh, man, that scene with the demon reindeer. How very Monty Python! The blame-game between the professors trying to shove it off onto Brian for having the nerve to make such good tea was another one. Oh, er, and them biscuits. Mmm, yes, that contributed as well. Oh, yes, lol.

Connolly does have a lovely time poking fun and tweaking the nose of science and those who pursue her willy-nilly. I’d love to see a story between him and Ann Brashares.

“Being clever is not just about how much you know, but about knowing that you really don’t know very much at all.”

Do, absolutely you must, visit the loo before you get to the villain’s speech. Interjections into the planned rhythm will have you howling.

And keep a kerchief by when you read the last chapter, for it will make you smile and cry all at the same time.

The Story
It’s Wormwood’s birthday and his first party with actual friends(!), even though he’s billions of years old.

Meanwhile, the slime demon Crudford is having a difficult time reassembling all of Mrs. Abernathy’s bits. Seems she has a heart! A heart of all things! Demons don’t have hearts!

At the same time, St. John-Cholmondley is hiring for Wreckit & Sons and issuing party invites to all the important people: Samuel and Bosworth, Nurd, Wormwood, Sergeant Rowan and Constable Peel, Shan and Gath, and of course, what party would be complete without elves.

The Characters
Samuel Johnson is quite a young man, the village hero in fact, although most want to ignore that bit. Boswell is his faithful dachshund. Maria Mayer (she’s in love with Samuel, shhh) and Tom are Samuel’s best human friends. And, yes, he’s actually dating the so-snooty Lucy Highmore. He lives with his mum while his dad lives with a pancake’d lady named Esther.

Nurd, the former Scourge now known as Mr. Cushing, has a job testing cars. The ferrety-looking Wormwood, a.k.a., Mr. Lee, will turn out to have hidden talents. Shan and Gath are still around as well, fellow demons employed at Spiggit’s Brewery as beer tasters and developers. Yes, old Mr. Spiggit knows they’re pig demons, but they can survive taste testing, and really, they look the part of taste testers for Spiggit’s.

Dan, Dan the former-ice cream man and his SODS, er, I mean, thieving, vandalizing dwarfs: Jolly, Dozy, Angry, and Mumbles are together as a team and hunting down gigs. Somehow, the BoyStarz are still around and still singing so very badly: Gemini, Starlight, Twinkle, and Phil. Yes, it’s true. People will pay them not to sing. Makes things very difficult for Dan, Dan the Talent Man, & Company.

Sergeant Rowan and Constable Peel have recovered, sort of, from their trip in Hell in The Infernals, 2.

Hilary Mould was Biddlecombe’s leading architect back in the day, the 19th century day. An odd duck, he’s left a number of oddities behind, including a statue that moves around town on a whim. The Wreckit & Sons building was one of Mould’s; Mr. Wreckit opened it as a general store sort of place, except the general sort of merchandise was decidedly odd. Mr. St. John-Cholmondeley (pronounce this Sinjin-Chumley or simply do what the dwarfs do *snicker*) is the new store manager getting things organized for Mr. Grimly, the new owner of Wreckit & Sons.

The branch lab for the Large Hadron Collider
Mr. Pennyfarthinge’s old sweets factory now houses a branch of the Large Hadron Collider labs, as the scientists want to know more about Samuel and why Biddlecombe would attract such odd attentions. Professor Stefan, the Head of Particle Physics; Brian is the tea boy although they gave him the title of Assistant Deputy Assistant to the Assistant Assistant to the Assistant Head of Particle Physics; Professor Hilbert is the Assistant Head of Particle Physics; and, Dorothy/Reginald is having a confused time of it as their assistant. Uncle Dabney turned out to be Mr. Pennyfarthinge with a talent for truly lethal sweets.

Biddlecombe inhabitants
Mr. Karloff is the caretaker for the Biddlecombe Visitor Centre and Battlefield Museum.

The Polite Monster is rather obsessed with clues and crossword puzzles.

Of the demons
Crudford, Esq., doesn’t fit into Hell that well. He’s simply too optimistic, but as a jelly being, he is very good at slipping and sliding in between spaces and space. Exactly what the Great Malevolence, the head demon, needs if he’s to get all the particles of Ba’al/Mrs. Abernathy back! Brompton and the disembodied Edgefast (see The Gates, 1) are still guarding the entrance to the Mountain of Despair, headquarters and home for the Great Malevolence. Only Brompton has wife troubles. She simply won’t stay left. The Watcher is here, but more of an observer than anything.

Shadows make the Great Malevolence look like a “small flowery unicorn that pooed fairy dust”. They put the thing in nothing, and they want to re-make the universes into their own image.

The Cover
The cover continues the theme of crazy, scary silhouettes, in blue, white, and black this time. It’s a hole with rooty-looking demons perched above a monster demon—hey, that’s what it looks like to me!—and a very, very small Boswell and Samuel trapped in a burrow.

I suspect the title refers to The Creeps inside Wreckit & Sons.

Reviewed by Kathy Davie, who is fast gaining followers in Goodreads and Amazon for her honest book reviews. Passionate about reading, writing, and editing, she searches the Internet for tips, tricks, and warnings with a keen interest in ideas that will foster reading in children as well as adults while aiding writers in their craft. Kathy blogs daily at KD Did It Takes on Books.

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2 responses to “Book Review: The Creeps by John Connolly

    • ladystorm

      You can’t help but love reading John Connolly. Throw in his version of an alternative universe—and the, ick, things that inhabit them…you’ll definitely get The Creeps while you laugh over and over again!

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