Halloween Jack and the Devil’s Gate by M. Todd Gallowglas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a romp of a story.
Based on Irish folklore, Halloween Jack and the Devil’s Gate starts out on a darkly magical note with the Devil’s minions taking over the gatehouse where demons gather on their way back to Hell. This Halloween night, the only night in which demons are free to walk the earth, will be the last one where Jack o’ the Lantern holds power. At least, if the Devil has his way. And to make sure, he orders every one of Jack’s line to be killed.
Caught up in this maelstrom is John O’Neill, soon to take on the persona of Halloween Jack. With his magical coat, stick, and lantern, he and his only surviving relatives and allies must find a way to return Satan and his demons to Hell and keep them there. It seems like an insurmountable problem, but Jack has a Plan.
The tone stays comically dark all through the novel and the action occurs at a furious pace. There’s no time at all for resting and planning; each step of Jack’s plan must be carried out forthwith, but nothing really goes right. Fortunately, Jack is nothing if not clever, and like the heroes of the tales at the heart of this one, he overcomes obstacle after obstacle, managing to convert an ogre to a friend and even get St. Peter to help out.
Naturally, as all heroes must, Jack will triumph. But at what cost? Only Jack knows, and he’s keeping that a secret from the others. After all, without a secret or two, the adventure wouldn’t be as much fun, would it?