Staff Picks: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

Book Cover of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

With the new series set to premier this month, I had to read Good Omens. 

I’d avoided it for all these years because, honestly, I’m not a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s. (Yes, go ahead and pelt me with raw carrots or something.) I just didn’t love Neil Gaiman enough to read this collaboration—and I love Neil Gaiman a lot. But the on-screen version of American Gods was so good, I decided I had to have the necessary background to properly appreciate this adaptation.

And it turns out to have been an excellent idea. Good Omens is terrifically funny, in a style reminiscent of Douglas Adams’ best work: somehow ludicrous and dry at the same time. Basically two angels, one fallen (Crowley) and one not so fallen (Aziraphale), are friends who have “gone native” here on Earth and are living happily among us. But then it turns out that the End Times are about to happen—and neither of them wants that.

Also in the mix: the Antichrist, age 11; Anathema Device, a witch and a descendant of the eponymous Agnes Nutter; the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; and a couple of misguided but very devoted witch hunters. Hijinks ensue.

There are tons of scenes that stick in my head in a very visual way—but if I told you about them, I'd be like that preview of that really hilarious movie that shows all the funniest pratfalls and sight gags and one-liners to get you all excited, and then when you go to see the actual movie, you realize you've already seen all the best bits. So I'm not gonna do that.

I will tell you that it's about free will, more or less. Free will, and the absurdity of the human condition, and yes, it's also a buddy comedy, sort of. It's got elements of the Hitchhiker's Guide and of American Gods, which you would expect. But it's also got elements of The Screwtape Letters (but less preachy), Lucifer (the TV show) (but smarter), The Good Place, and The Preacher.

Verdict: definitely read it. Especially if you plan to watch the show. If you like this sort of thing, this is definitely a great example of it. If you have no idea what sort of thing this is, this is a good place to start. If you don't like this sort of thing... I still think you should give it a try, because this might very well change your mind. If it doesn't, I'll still shake your hand and wish you well.

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Picked by Michelle N.