Good Omens, by Pratchett and Gaiman

by Derwood Hunsdale-Talbot on July 17, 2008

Good Omens (1990) is supposedly a parody based off the movie The Omen (1976) written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, which I did not know about when I read the novel and have not seen the film either. So you could say my opinion of the novel alone remains untainted.

It took me awhile to get through it, as while it was interesting, it wasn’t compelling enough to keep me reaching for it, until it hit the last fourth of so. It starts out pretty slow, but with a great premise, the Antichrist is placed into an American diplomat’s family to be raised in Britain as their child so as to never really know the difference between good and evil. Unfortunately the minions at the hospital screwed up and the real Antichrist is off living elsewhere, a normal, regular life with friends, a dog and a active 11 year old boy’s imagination.

There is an angel and a demon, Heaven and Hell representatives on Earth (respectively) who have become quite comfortable with their lifestyles amongst the people on Earth and humanity and upon hearing that the End Times is near, begin to grow closer and even work together to keep an eye on the Antichrist. Rather, who they think is the Antichrist. They start coming in handy at the end when they realize they might actually have some compassion for the people of Earth.

Now you might ask, where does this Agnes Nutter, witch, part fit in. Because I sure was asking myself that. The witch part doesn’t really materialize until the latter half of the novel, in which it is revealed that this witch, Agnes Nutter, in the 17th century, made a whole lot of predictions about the future, published them in a book and then was promptly burnt at the stake like all good witches. I won’t spoil what this particular witch did as her revenge, but the prophecies turn out to be extremely true and the last copy in existence being held by a distant relative who has made it her life’s work to follow the progress and decipher the prophecies. Upon figuring out that the end of the world is near, she begins to look for the real Antichrist, knowing that there was a mix up at birth.

Enter the Four (updated) Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It’s at this point that novel gets a lot more interesting, particularly since one of the horsemen is actually a horsewoman and pestilence has become pollution and so on.

Without spoiling it, since the best part is where it picks up at the end, I’ll stop here! If you enjoy tales with satire on Heaven, Hell, Christ and Death, than this tale is for you. I ended up reading it because I liked Christopher Moore’s A Dirty Job so much, but in this case, A Dirty Job is still the winner.

On the Bookalicious Scale: 3- Guilty Pleasure: Sometimes you just crave those empty calories.

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