- First published in 1996 by Victor Gollancz
- Format: Paperback – Published in 2013 by Corgi
- Reading Time: 3 warming days
- Fancied this as a Christmas read so I saved this Turtle Recall book until the end of the year especially (and, contrary to my Thief of Time review, this is my last Death book – for real, this time). I was not disappointed. This was a very innovative on the ‘filling-in-for-temporarily-indisposed-Santa’ story. Only, in this case, it’s Death filling in for the Hogfather who seems to have mysteriously vanished on the night of Hogswatch Eve. After all, everyone still has to believe in the Hogfather. Undermining belief and tradition can have terrible consequences on the Disc but it doesn’t stop some people (I use the term in the loosest sense) from trying.
- Easy flow between the POVs though it was a bit hard to determine where the story was going at first. Showing Death filling in for the Hogfather almost straight away was a bit of a leap and it felt like we had missed a big chunk of the story. Thankfully, the story caught up with me and filled in the gaps pretty well. That said, it is easy to lose track of things as the novel switches POV and seems to even jump back and forth in time so many times. Like all Discworld novels, you need to pay attention and don’t rush through it unless you’re rushing to meet a reading challenge deadline.
- Susan is back and as a governess this time. She’s a solidly sensible sort and the fact that she knows full well that the Tooth Fairy and monsters under the bed are real doesn’t change that. All that means is that she knows how to fight them off when they come to bother her young charges. Needless to say, that makes her very popular with them but her determination to be normal as much as possible means she doesn’t have a terribly good relationship with her grandfather. Death, on the other hand, gets the most character development though as he’s challenged by all the ‘real meanings’ of Hogswatch and the fact that giving everyone what they want for Hogswatch may not be the best thing. The criminal gang members were interesting but I wouldn’t say they were the most memorable. The gang certainly didn’t stick in the mind as much as Mr Tulip and Mr Pin.
- The Faculty provided a lot of the humour as they and Hex, the University’s computer, try to figure out what’s going on. The God of Hangovers and all the other ‘oh gods’ that come into being due to some careless words are really funny and creative too. As well as a lot of sharp humour, there are also a lot of sweet, heart-warming moments that never feel contrived or forced. It’s just what you would expect from a Discworld version of a Christmas novel – something that leaves your heart light but your feet firmly on the ground.
- I loved Pratchett’s take on ‘belief makes the myth real’. It’s not at all sappy and it doesn’t opt for the traditional message. Instead, it went for a much more profound exploration of the idea of why belief in a magic man that comes down the chimney to deliver presents once a year is important. The book also went for a pretty original take on the Tooth Fairy but I won’t give away much more here.
- Very good take on Christmas traditions and stories, which include The Little Match Girl and Good King Wenceslas. I particularly like Pratchett’s sharp observations on festive traditions and on kids in general. In particular, I loved his observation that modern bowdlerisations of old fairytales were done not because the kids didn’t like the gory bits but because the adults reading them the fairytales didn’t like the gory bits. Mostly because I was one of those kids who loved the gory bits and wanted to let every kid who hadn’t read the gory bits know about them. I can definitely believe that a more, shall we say, realistic Hogfather (complete with pigs that go to the toilet on the carpet) would go down way better with kids than a totally jolly Hogfather with cutesy fake pigs. What I also love is that Pratchett didn’t try to nail down a ‘definitive Hogfather’ and dismiss all the other types of Hogfather out there as just commercialisation or superstition like some Christmas films do with Father Christmas. I won’t spoil what he went for instead but I think it was rather clever.
- Expected a dramatic climax and I definitely got it. The way the criminal gang was dealt with was fantastic and the chase to find the Hogfather was exhilaratingly chaotic. A little too chaotic, perhaps. I got caught up at the ending but I was struggling to keep on track with the chase. I’ll definitely have to make this a regular Christmas read just to make sure I’ve got everything straight. I might even search out the TV version.
Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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