I love musicals and I like Opera. I love Phantom of the Opera and I love great female characters with ambition. Of course Terry Pratchett’s going to combine all this into one perfect little book.
Granny and Nanny are witches in a coven who’ve recently lost their third witch. Unfortunately they discover that you really need the third witch to balance stuff out, so they come up with a plan to recruit Agnes Nitt to be part of their little gang.
You needed at least three witches for a coven. Two witches was just an argument.
Small problem. Agnes Nitt has gone to the big city, changed her name to Perdita X. Dream and joined the Opera where she is immediately accepted, partly because she’s able to sing in harmony with herself. Unfortunately she’s blessed with a good personality and it is the pretty, blonde Christine that is on stage whereas Agnes/Perdita sings the role.
“Opera happens because a large number of things amazingly fail to go wrong,”
Also there’s murders happening. Did I not mention the murders? Well there is, and it’s suspected that the Opera Ghost is behind them, didn’t mention the ghost either, did I? Right, so the opera house has an opera ghost and some murders happening and Granny and Nanny on their way to convince Agnes to become the third witch, so what’s solving a few murders in the meantime?
“Well, I think,” said Nobby, “that when you rule out the impossible, whatever is left, however improbable, ain’t worth hanging around for on a cold night wonderin’ about when you could be getting on the outside of a big drink.”
This book is, as always, well written and flows smoothly. There’s fewer jokes in this book, but the characters are strong and the satire flows swiftly through while still maintaining an entertaining and satisfying plot. At the same time it deals nicely with identity and coming of age, a perfect subject for opera and theatre; places that allow you to try out new identities and experiment.
“There’s a kind of magic in masks. Masks conceal one face, but they reveal another. The one that only comes out in darkness. I bet you could do just what you liked, behind a mask … ?”
But mainly it’s just a fun, silly ride designed by a man who clearly loves opera and thinks the Phantom of the Opera is a bit daft. Maskerade exposes it all, lovingly pokes into it and respectfully rebuilds it into the discworld.