This novel started out as a short story by Neil Gaiman, however, he didn’t know where to take it next or how it ended, so he sent it to Terry Pratchett. The idea sat in Terry’s mind for some time, until about a year later he rang Neil saying he didn’t know how it ended but he did know what happened next, and that is how the collaboration began.
A satirical and humorous book about the end of the world featuring a strange collection of protagonists, including; The Antichrist, Crowley (a demon), Aziraphale (an angel) and many others whose stories all slowly move together as the plot progresses. With so many different and complex characters I found it particularly useful that the authors had included a list of them and their roles for reference throughout the novel, particularly near the beginning of the book before I had got fully immersed in the story.
The novel is presented primarily as the ‘prophecies’ of Agnes Nutter, Witch, however, these merely play in the background of the other characters and their tales. The only problem with this book for me were the notes under the main text, although they added some interesting extra information I found they sometimes slowed the read down.
The book’s narration jumps back and forth from the variety of characters to create a fast pace and to keep the reader hooked by moving stories just when the previous one gets interesting. Although initially, all these characters create a slightly complicated read once you get into the book it’s easy enough to read and thoroughly captivating.
The personification of demons, angels, witches and even witch hunters, with their unique personalities and quirks, create a great collection of narratives to follow. In particular, the cool and suave demon Crowley who whilst primarily portrayed as ‘evil’ as his title would suggest, has traits that mean you really can’t help but like him.
A book so full of wicked and twisted comedy that it often becomes quintessentially British in its style. For example; there is an idea that all cassette tapes if left in a car long enough, somehow become Queen music. The rapture itself should be a sinister situation, yet Pratchett and Gaiman write it so well that it balances brilliantly on the edge of darkness and satirical humour. Some of this devilish hilarity is so true to real life that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud – or in some cases; show extracts to others around me so they too could laugh along and agree.
The book not only has a comical side but the authors also take a slightly philosophical look at humanity and the problems we face in modern day life. The four horsemen (or bikers) of the apocalypse somewhat embody these downfalls. Again all of this is depicted through the use of wickedly funny and loveable characters combined with dry, British witticisms.
Written by two great writers I had high hopes for this book and I wasn’t disappointed. With a great, fast paced plotline, terrific characters and intelligent, satirical humour, this book hits the spot on many points. Fans of Pratchett or Gaiman will surely enjoy it, as will hoards of other readers – it is a million-copy bestseller after all.