Monthly Archives: February 2022

Amy Caudill’s Reviews: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by  Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman (Goodreads Author)

Amy Caudill‘s review

This irreverent look at good and evil, angels and demons, and the oft-predicted end of the world features the work of two masters of fantasy and mayhem in a humorous yet horrifying story that screams about human nature and the state of the world as we know it.

A demon, Crowley, and an angel, Aziraphale, have been on Earth since the time of Adam and Eve, (in fact it was Aziraphale who wielded the Flaming Sword in the Garden of Eden, and Crowley, then called Crawly, was the serpent who convinced Adam and Eve to sin.)  Since the pair have few colleagues/enemies who have shared so much time and history with them, they tend to gravitate toward each other.  That is, they meet for drinks, and more or less stay out of each other’s way while they carry out their assigned duties/a.k.a. intervention into human life.

Crowley is charged with delivering the infant who will become the Antichrist; though through a series of events involving bureaucracy and human blunder the child goes home with the wrong family, growing up without either divine or evil influence.  Adam Young is to all appearances an ordinary human boy, unaware that both sides of the divide anticipate the events that are prophesied to culminate on his eleventh birthday.

Crowley and Aziraphale decide that they like Earth as it is, and are not in a hurry to return to Hell/Heaven, where things are too boring, predictable, and unvaried without human creativity and influence.  They attempt to find the child Antichrist before he destroys the world, but are hampered along the way by Witchhunters, traffic jams, and a host of roadblocks.

 In the end, though, the Angel/Demon duo is helpless to do anything but watch as Adam Young comes into his own, and decides the fate of humanity.  Or is it really just a part of some Ineffable plan that neither demons nor angels have been informed about?  And does a sixteenth century convicted witch named Agnes Nutter really have all the answers?

I was familiar with the book long before I actually read it, thanks to the popular series it has spawned (but I have yet to watch,) so I was able to imagine the television actors in the role of the two main characters.  For me, this made the book even more enjoyable. The satire is so relevant and so in keeping with human nature, which in Pratchett and Gaiman’s world would naturally infect both angels and demons.

I award this book four stars, it would be five but for someone who is not British, some of the slang and local references are really obscure to the point that parts of the book required re-reading and numerous references to the included footnotes to get the jokes.  Still, it is a good read, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a satirical fantasy that doesn’t take itself at all seriously.

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Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows

Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove

Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows (The Cthulhu Casebooks, #1) by  James Lovegrove

Amy Caudill‘s review

In one of the more creative takes on the stories originally penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, James Lovegrove combines the classic Holmes with stories from another period author, H.P. Lovecraft, for a detective horror fiction that pays tribute to both genres.

In the forward to The Shadwell Shadows, the first book of the trilogy The Cthulu Casebooks, the author claims to be a distant relative of Lovecraft, who “inherited” these manuscripts from his estate.  He has decided to share with the world the unbelievable and potentially panic-inducing tales as a public service, letting the readers make up their own minds as to validity.

He portray a very different first meeting for Holmes and Watson, where Watson’s war wounds came from a brush with the supernatural, and Holmes’ early cases have already demonstrated that there are inexplicable events happening in Victorian London.  He states, as the narrator in Watson’s voice, that the true events that happened during Holmes and Watson’s long association were too controversial, too fantastical, to bring to public knowledge.

The basic plot of this volume revolves around a number of mysterious deaths, mostly of indigents and outcasts of society, that Scotland Yard spend little effort on and so fail to connect.  However, Holmes does find a connection, and follows it, along with his new roommate Watson, to an opium den run by a wealthy immigrant who has delved into studies of dark rituals and old gods that are all but forgotten in polite society.  This is only the jump-off point to awareness of monsters in the dark, magic rituals and horrors that Holmes and Watson would rather unlearn, but cannot run from, because there are other lives at stake.

While this book makes references to a number of “classic” Holmes cases, the contents of this volume are written not as a collection of stories, but rather as one long continuous tale.  The epilogue also mentions the subjects of the next two volumes, hinting that this collection is one long tale of the “true” events of their joined career.

Lovegrove has done a credible job imitating Doyle’s style and characters, while placing them into situations where the paranormal is a reality that can be seductive and dangerous.  I really can’t say I’ve read much Lovecraft for myself, though I am aware of his creations from various other sources, from popular movies and other fiction.  I believe Lovegrove’s allusions to Lovecraft’s work are just as meticulous as is his borrowing of the Holmesian mythos.

I thought this a very interesting read and would recommend it to fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian era-fiction and classic horror tales alike.  I award this book four stars and intend to seek out the next work in the series.