book, book review, books, Discworld, fantasy, fiction, Maskerade, mystery, Phantom of the Opera, reading, review, reviews, Terry Pratchett, witches
Discworld #18, Witches #5
by Terry Pratchett
genre: fantasy, mystery
Summary from Goodreads
Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, the Discworld’s greatest witches, are back for an innocent night at the opera. Naturally there’s going to be trouble, but at the same time there’ll be a good evening’s entertainment with murders that you can really hum to.
Why I Chose the Book
Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors, so when I saw multiple shelves crammed with Discworld volumes, I couldn’t contain my glee. After picking three based on the cover art, I asked my friend which of them he suggested.
Pratchett is one of the greatest creative minds; the number of twists and layers in Monstrous Regiment makes Bellaception look like child’s play.
From the cover art and the picture of Pratchett as the Opera Phantom on the cover jacket, I should have realized this was a reimagined Phantom of the Opera story. That said, I was a little disappointed with this adaptation. Pratchett took some interesting artistic liberties with the story and kept me from figuring out “who dun it,” but I’d rather have read something completely his own.
Well, this is embarrassing. Unable to write the review right when I finished the book, I rated it on Goodreads so that I could write it from home. Without double checking what I’d rated it, I wrote everything up to this point thinking I’d rated it a 2 or a 3. Once I got to this section, I checked Goodreads and realized I marked it as 4 stars. Since I’ve already explained what I didn’t like, I’ll dedicate this section to what I did.
Unlike the many Cinderella adaptations that simply modernize the story or add fun dancing numbers, Pratchett made this story his own. There was one quotable moment I wish I’d remembered to write down before I left. It was something along the lines of the witches being worse than evil–they were meddlers who always thought they knew best. The book is also deceptively long since there are no chapter breaks to leave portions of pages blank. In “the real world” I’d have taken six months or longer to read it, but on vacation I made it through in about a week.
While we were at a bookstore, the groom picked up the last Pratchett novel. “Latest” I silently corrected, but then realized it is the last book as we approach the one year anniversary of his death. Pratchett will be sorely missed and you’re missing out if you’re a fantasy reader who has not read any of his books. If you’re a Phantom of the Opera fan, feel free to start with this one, otherwise I’d recommend another of the Discworld or Witches books.
4 out of 5 stars.
To see what other books we’ve reviewed, check out our book reviews page.
I don’t know now many of his books you have read but this tendency to take existing stories and make them “part of his own” is a common theme in the discworld. He justifies it by reference to a “Narrative force” that makes events follow certain directions, directions that while usually okay in a story, go badly for anybody in “real life” (Pratchett’s world). Most of the witches stories involve them trying to fight against this force. The witches state that it is because witches usually end up dead at the end of those stories but it also ends up making the world a better place.
Interesting! I’d not heard much about the witch stories and didn’t have a sense of the stories as a whole since I’ve only picked them up individually and in no particular order. It’s also very possible that my favorite was also a spin-off, but I just didn’t know about the original.
After reading this, I went backwards and got the Witches book #4. I’m about 75% of the way through that one at the moment.