Hell’s Gate by Laurent Gaudé~ Ellen’s Review

About the book:


What if death was not the end? A thrilling story of love, loss, revenge andredemption in Naples and beyond.

When his son is killed by gangsters’ crossfire on his way to school, Neapolitan taxi driver Matteo is consumed by despair.

But just when he feels life has lost all meaning, he encounters a man who claims the living can find ways into the afterlife. And legend says that there’s an entrance to the underworld beneath Naples.

What if Matteo had a chance of bringing Pippo back from the dead?

Click HERE to get your copy!

Ellen’s review:

Hell’s gate is a story about a family torn apart by the death of eight year old Pippo. Parents Matteo and Guiliana are understandably drowning in grief; lurching from anguish to rage and the desire for vengeance. Indeed revenge and redemption are the central themes running throughout. Guiliana is the driving force for revenge and demands that Matteo either kills the man responsible or brings back Pippo. When Matteo fails to deliver the retribution, Guiliana leaves him and resolves to never think of him or Pippo again to help her cope with the loss of her only child. I found this hard to read; as a wife and mother I would be reliant on my husband to support and comfort me. We also discover that Guiliana’s forgetting of Pippo results in it being harder for him to ascend in the Underworld. He is trapped in the endless current of lost souls. The story opened with Pippo as an adult so we are aware he has been saved but I was still left uncomfortable with the thought of him being trapped because of his mother’s reaction.


This book obviously portrays the afterlife in a different way than would maybe spring to mind. It is akin to Dante’s version and strangely unsettling. All in all, I’m not sure how I felt about this book personally. It didn’t leave me uplifted, maybe a little unfulfilled? I enjoyed the sections featuring adult Pippo and his resolve for revenge and Matteo’s eclectic group of friends he descends into hell with and who ultimately become Pippo’s new family. What’s not to love about a disgraced professor, a transvestite, a mad priest and the easy-going owner of a café?

3.5 stars

5 thoughts on “Hell’s Gate by Laurent Gaudé~ Ellen’s Review

  1. I read this a while back and had similar mixed feelings. Unsettling is a good description. It was original but I couldn’t work out if it was meant to be allegorical, was Matteo’s experience just an imagined manifestation of his grief? But I liked the ragtag band of companions as well.

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