Spooktober, Day 18: Good Omens by  Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

“Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous Do not attempt it in your own home.”

Is Good Omens a horror story? No, it’s far too intelligent for that.

Good Omens (or, to give it’s full title Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch) was a unique collaboration between the late and much-missed Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman when the former was known principally as the author of The Sandman graphic novels. It is, in the broadest sense, a comedy about the end of the world.

The end times are near. An angel and a demon, who have become too fond of humanity conspire to swap a baby destined to become the Antichrist. The child grows up in rural Oxfordshire, where he learns the value of friendship while using strange powers to bend reality to his will as the Four Horsemen begin to gather. It is becoming clear that this has all been prophesied by a startling accurate and incredibly useless prophetess, the author of such unexpected insights as  “Do Notte Buy Betamacks”.

So no, Good Omens is not, strictly speaking, a horror story. But it’s a loving but critical send-up horror tropes, eschatology and prophecy. Gaiman and Pratchett’s joint fingerprints are all over it: the grisly postmodern twist on genre fiction of the former married to the knowing satire of the later. Good Omens could easily have been a stand-alone novel for either author, and we’re fortunate to have this one-time meeting of the minds. I’d recommend it to anyone who is a fan of either author or just fancies a good laugh at the absurdity of apocalyptic thinking.

Spooktober, Day 8: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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People want to forget the impossible. It makes their world safer.

I have become convinced that Neil Gaiman is some a wizard. Because every story he writes somehow seems so effortless, so easy to read but jam-packed full of imagination. The Graveyard Book may not be my favourite of his novels (*coughs*American Gods*coughs*), but it’s definitely his most accessible.

The Graveyard Book is the story of Nobody “Bod” Owens, who is orphaned in the intro by a serial killer and raised in a nearby cemetery by a family of ghosts and a reformed vampire. Most of the book is made up of a series of short stories and vignettes about Bod’s adventures growing up in the graveyard, encountering ghosts and witches and werewolves and a human girl who slowly tempts him to rejoin the world of the living. And if anyone of this sounds familiar: yes, it is based on Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book.

The Graveyard Book is a delight for all ages: it’s horror-themed without being too intense for young readers, while well-written and layered enough that it never feels “childish”. So if you’re looking for a break from all the terror of Halloween but still feel in the mood for something spooky, check it out.