I don’t know what to say about this one, really. Its plagued me for over a week – I liked the book, I liked what it had to say about grief and memory… but I can’t quite put it together into a comprehensive opinion about the book. Here’s some thoughts I do have, though.
The book in typical Pratchett and DEATH fashion splits the narrative – we have a fab foursome causing wizards to shake, rattle and roll, and managing to bring some broken furniture and jam-packed concerts to the Mended Drum. Suddenly, there’s an earworm loose in Discworld, and now everyone’s got a song in their hearts. In addition to that, we have Death once again going off the grid and abandoning his responsibilities in a similar vein to Mort, leaving the repercussions to be dealt with by someone else. This is only the third Death book and yet it already feels repetitive. Part of the reason it frustrates me is because Death is a fun character, and I want to see more of him doing the job of Death. It was also a lot of waiting for emotionally honest moments like Reaper Man. But when they come his expresses misery at the fact that he is capable of preventing deaths but is forbidden to do so is poignant.
This one fell flat for me. I think most of the music references were from the 50s and 60s, and since that’s the music my dad played all the time I think I caught most, but certainly not all, of Pratchett’s in-jokes, but they felt more tiresome than inspiring by page 200 of 424 (there was a time I was lamenting the relatively short length of Mort, and unfortunately this one being nearly twice as long doesn’t help). The constantly-repeated “he looks elvish” joke, Imp’s translated name… it’s all a bit much. It squeaks by with 3 stars because I love the Death of Rats, Quoth the Raven, Susan, the swing that Death built for her and pillows on bony knees, and her memories returning while Binky and Albert go about what needs doing.
As is usually the case, it’s easier to identify my complaints than what worked. I enjoyed the humor as is usually the way with Pratchett books, he has a great way of using witty descriptions for common things. I also really enjoyed the character of Susan, as the granddaughter of the anthropomorphic personification of a concept. The things she “inherits” from him even before officially inheriting the work are another interesting sidetrip into what we pick up in all the other ways besides genetics.
This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read, where we read what we want, review it how we see fit (within a few guidelines), and stick it to cancer one book at a time.