A fabulous collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman in a very British, comedic take on The Omen, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve now read this book, always finding something new to laugh at. So when I found myself recuperating from a very nasty illness, there was no other choice for me as to who I should spend my reading time with – as well as it serving as a timely refresh and reminder now that a TV adaptation is in the works.
Crowley (an Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards) and Aziraphale (an Angel who used to have a flaming sword, ’til he lost it, and now avidly collects books) have been working on opposite sides, albeit in a very friendly way, for thousands of years. But when events are put in motion to bring about Armageddon, via a complex baby swapping scheme involving the Antichrist, the American ambassador, a middle class English couple and some chattering Satanic nuns, they decide to work together to try and stop the Hosts of Heaven and Hell from destroying the Earth, which they’ve become very fond of. Which is how we find ourselves keeping company with a Hell Hound, a witch, some Witchfinders, a painted Jezebel, tunnelling Tibetan monks UFOs, the Four Horsemen, and The Them in an adventure that makes me laugh at least once a paragraph, if not more.
There really is nothing in this book that counts as a flaw for me. Everything, from the footnotes to the cassette tapes that keep turning into The Best of Queen, is filled with delight, humour and imagination. Chief amongst my highlights are The Them, who are the most perfect gang of English kids inhabiting the most perfect English village you could imagine. Whatever happens in the adaptation, I think it will stand or fall on how well the kids are cast.
Speaking of the adaptation, I did also find myself wondering more than once how well this could be pulled off given that a lot of the best jokes are found in the descriptions, asides, and the aforementioned footnotes rather than in what is being said or done, and I have found myself slightly perplexed over the redness of Crowley’s hair in the few photos that have been released (“Crowley had dark hair and good cheekbones and he was wearing snakeskin shoes, or at least presumably he was wearing shoes, and he could do really weird things with his tongue. And, whenever he forgot himself, he had a tendency to hiss. He also didn’t blink much.”)
But no matter. Even if the adaptation turns out to be cack, I’ll always have the book to come back to.