Angels, demons, witches, computers and bikers collide in this hilarious adventure by two legendary writers, Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett. The book was first published in 1990 and has seen a renewal of interest as it’s been adapted for TV (I’ll watch it on the BBC whenever they decide to schedule it). I was sure I’d read this book before, but there’s no record of it in my database.
The story focuses on various characters, the most interesting of these being Aziraphale, an angel, and Crowley, a demon. The two of them have known each other so long that they’re friends, even though one works for Heaven and the other works for Hell. Moreover, they like living on Earth very much, so when Armageddon is about to happen, they want to stop it. I thought there wasn’t enough of these two characters in the book. There is also a group of decent kids, one of whom happens to be the Antichrist but no one else knows that. Plus, a witch called Anathema Device who is deciphering the prophecies of an ancestor and who teams up with a steady sort of chap called Newton who is supposed to be a witchfinder. Everything is centred on an idyllic village called Tadfield in the present day.
Although the story has plenty of fast-paced magical action, it’s not all fun and adventures. There are many conversations about the nature of good and evil. I think there is also a strong message about the environment. I feel that this book has a more thoughtful tone than the blurb and the marketing suggests. To an audience today, the cultural references will seem a little outdated, because it was written nearly 30 years ago. I liked the book a lot and thought it was funny, but I’m not sure I would re-read it. There needed to be more of Aziraphale and Crowley; there was a large section of the book where they were absent and I was wishing they’d turn up soon.
The TV tie-in edition was published in 2019. There are some interesting notes at the end about the authors’ first impressions of each other and how they contrived to collaborate on the novel despite being awake at different hours and having no email.