Review policy

I am very happy to review any novel that fits in with the theme of this blog: novels aimed at 9-14 year olds, preferably with a fantasy/ speculative world setting. However, I will make clear in the review that I was sent the book by the publisher and I will write my honest opinion. Please feel free to contact me via Twitter or Facebook, or fantasticreads at gmail dot com.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Seasonal reading 5: Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

It was the night before Hogswatch. All through the house...
... one creature stirred. It was a mouse.

Image: hive.co.uk


In the city of Ankh Morpork, the chief of the Assassin's Guild, Lord Downey, has a visitor from the Auditors of Reality, who manage the Universe. They dislike humanity, because humans' unpredictability and illogicality interfere with their smooth bureaucracy. The epitome if the illogical nature of humans is their irrational belief; and this is exemplified in the Hogfather, Discworld's Father Christmas. The Auditors want the Hogfather done away with. Lord Downey can only think of one assassin who would do such a terrible thing: Mr Teatime (pronounced Te-ah Tim-eh). 

Meanwhile, Susan Sto Helit, Death's granddaughter, is working as a governess to a rather pretentious Ankh Morpork family. Their former governess has tried to discipline the children (Gawain and Twyla) by telling them that monsters would come for them if they weren't good, and Susan knows that it is futile to tell them otherwise. The children believe in the Hogfather, the Soul Cake Tuesday Duck and the Tooth Fairy, so why would they not believe in the Bogeyman, the Scissor Man who cuts the thumbs off thumb suckers and the step-on-the-crack bears? Instead, Susan kills them with the nursery poker.

The Hogfather disappears, and Death, always fascinated by humans, decides to take his role, with a cushion stuffed up his robe and riding the Hogfather's boar-pulled sleigh instead of his white horse, Binky. Death understands that since the Hogfather is the personification of Hogswatch rather than a living being, he cannot die, but if children stop believing in him he will disappear. He persuades Susan to find the Hogfather. Along the way she meets Bilious, the Oh God of hangovers, and together they travel to the land of the tooth fairy to confront Mr Teatime and his companions from the Guild of Thieves.

At the same time in the Unseen University, many strange Small Gods and personifications (such as the Verruca Gnome and the Cheerful Fairy) are being created due to the superfluous belief that has come about due to lack of belief in the Hogfather. Can Susan rescue the Hogfather, and can Death's rather over-literal interpretation of "it is better to give than to receive" save the day?

This is one of my favourite Discworld books, and is a staple of my Seasonal Reading. It is an adult book in the Discworld series (younger readers might prefer Wintersmith) but is perfectly accessible to confident readers of 12+. A TV dramatisation is available on DVD, as well. Enjoy it!
And don't forget to leave a pork pie for the Hogfather and turnips for the pigs.,

5 comments:

  1. Hi! Hope you don't mind me dropping in :)

    I'm one of those heathens that for some reason cannot get into Pratchett. They sound perfect for me, I love books like his, but for some reason I've only ever got on with Mort and none other. It's very distressing! I'll have to give Hogfather a go though, because it sounds right up my street.

    Incidentally, ever tried a chap called Barry Hutichison? The 13th Horseman is the one I read, gave me a proper giggle and it does remind me a great deal of Pratchett.

    Also - you're the first blog I've found that also does children's books across the age groups! Hurrah!

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  2. Thank you for your lovely comments! I love Barry Hutchison, and have Mr Mumbles ready to read.

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  3. I love Hogfather so much. Must try to squeeze in a re-read...

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    1. It is SO good. I love the TV adaptation, too!

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  4. I just loved this book. Read it a few years ago now, but this has just reminded me to get it back out.

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