Thursday, January 22, 2009

Book review: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

This is my new favorite book. It's a wickedly funny, irreverent parody of the End of Days, the Apocalypse, and the key players therein.

First, we have Agnes Nutter. Agnes has been dead since the 1600s, one of the few women executed for witchcraft who was actually a witch. Agnes wrote a book of prophecies that's been handed down through the generations, accurate in every respect, if not always representative.

Anathema is Agnes' descendent. A witch in her own right, and keeper of the Prophecies, she's arrived in a little English country village to await the end of the world.

Down the road lives Adam Young, the unwitting victim of a hospital mix-up, and his group of friends. Good kids, really, whose youthful enthusiasm and imagination leads them into occasional trouble.

No witch story is complete without an Inquisitor, and we have our own in Witchfinder recruit Newt. A bit bumbling and befuddled, but certainly well-meaning, he's not quite sure what it is he's been recruited for, he just wants to belong. Shadwell, his boss, is one weird, weird guy.

It wouldn't be the Apocalypse without the Four Horsemen, and they arrive in rare form, even if one is a fill-in. And there's the requisite angel and demon. They've been doing drinks together since the dark ages.

All the players converge for the Big Event, but the tale is really in the journeys. The different threads converge into a Gordian knot at the climax that mixes pyrotechnics, morality and humor in an unexpected but satisfying resolution.


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