“Funny thing is,” said Crawly, “I keep wondering whether the apple thing wasn’t the right thing to do, as well. A demon can get into real trouble, doing the right thing.” He nudged the angel. “Funny if we both got it wrong, eh? Funny if I did the good thing and you did the bad one, eh?”
Where to even begin with this masterpiece? Maybe I should give you a little insight into what it is about. If that is even possible. I guess in the simplest of terms, it’s about the Apocalypse. And the Anti-Christ. And a demon and an angel. Yup. Did I mention it is written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett? The only real question here is how in the hell had I not read this until now?
There are so many things that I love about this book that I am just going to go ahead and list a few.
1. Crowley. He is the main demon in the book, and suffers from having the tiniest bit of good in his heart.In the beginning of the book, there is a list of characters, some with a vague description attached. Here is Crowley’s:
Crowley (An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards)
Basically, recognize this guy?
2. You know sometimes when you are reading a Gaiman novel, or sometimes a different author (but mainly Gaiman, let’s be honest) and you notice random Whovian references that are just said as if they are completely normal? Well, this book happens to have one of those, but not on purpose. Confused? Well let me show you. This is a quote from Adam (the Antichrist, who is also an eleven year old boy) when he is helping Anathema (a witch) find a book she had lost.
“I’ll help you look for it, if you like,” said Adam gallantly. “I know quite a lot about books, actually. I wrote a book once. It was a triffic book. It was nearly eight pages long. It was about this pirate who was a famous detective. And I drew the pictures.” And then, in a flash of largess, he added, “If you like I’ll let you read it. I bet it was a lot more excitin’ than any book you’ve lost. ’Specially the bit in the spaceship where the dinosaur comes out and fights with the cowboys. I bet it’d cheer you up, my book. It cheered up Brian no end. He said he’d never been so cheered up.”
Sound familiar Whovians? Maybe a scene like this one is flashing in your brain:
That’s because it is from an episode from Season 7 called Dinosaurs on a Spaceship in which Eleven, Rory, and his dad BRIAN save some dinosaurs in space. I know Gaiman has written a couple Doctor Who episodes, but he didn’t write this one. Then you think oh, brilliant! Another Doctor Who reference that no one will get if they aren’t a Whovian, and you feel all warm and special inside because Gaiman loves the Doctor as much as you do, and you get to be in on all the jokes.
But then comes the best bit! You realize that Dinosaurs on a Spaceship aired in 2012, and that Good Omens was published in 1990, 22 years earlier! An entire episode was fabricated from an obscure line, by and eleven-year old Antichrist, in a book about the Apocalypse.
3. The whole novel is footnoted. Hilariously footnoted.
4. The massive amount of quotes that I loved from it.
5. Lastly, there is a section in the back about the authors, and then another section in which one talks about the other. I am constantly trying to convert people to reading Neil Gaiman, but when they ask me what kind of writer he is, it becomes pretty hard to describe. Pratchett hits the nail right on the head:
Well, he’s no genius. He’s better than that.
He’s not a wizard, in other words, but a conjurer.
Wizards don’t have to work. They wave their hands, and the magic happens. But conjurers, now… conjurers work very hard. They spend a lot of time in their youth watching, very carefully, the best conjurers of their day. They seek out old books of trickery and, being natural conjurers, read everything else as well, because history itself is just a magic show. They observe the way people think, and the many ways in which they don’t. They learn the subtle use of springs, and how to open mighty temple doors at a touch, and how to make the trumpets sound.
And they take center stage and amaze you with flags of all nations and smoke and mirrors, and you cry: “Amazing! How does he do it? What happened to the elephant? Where’s the rabbit? Did he really smash my watch?”
And in the back row we, the other conjurers, say quietly: “Well done. Isn’t that a variant of the Prague Levitating Sock? Wasn’t that Pasqual’s Spirit Mirror, where the girl isn’t really there? But where the hell did that flaming sword come from?”
From now on, I am just going to tell everyone that he is a conjurer!