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Alternative Christmas read is a modern classic

Looking for a great book to read that is absolutely definitely not about Christmas, but is still.. you know.. sort of… Christmassy?

Well look no further than Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather. First published in 1996 this stunning book has become a modern Christmas classic.

Set on the night before Hogswatch there is snow, there are Robins, there are trees covered with decorations, but there is a notable lack of the big fat man who delivers the toys.

That pretty much sets the scene for a mystery that will be ultimately solved by our heroine, a very sensible young lady named Susan who happens to be the grim reaper’s granddaughter.

As fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels already know books with Death in them (as a character in his own right) are often rather jolly affairs. This is the 20th novel in the topsy-turvy Discworld series that have has made Terry Pratchett one of English literature’s most loved and respected novelists.

The author mixes a dark and ever so slightly nightmarish tale of assassins and murder with great philosophical questions about the meaning of Christmas (sorry, Hogswatch).

Although the story is populated with fairies, bogeymen, death and a host of mythical creatures, all of them are in the end very, very human. It is ultimately humanity that shines through in all of Pratchett works and his technique of using non-human characters to hold the mirror up to humanity is his defining strength.

Oh and did I mention, it is absolutely hilariously funny. Peppered with witty asides and deliciously confused dialogue there are on average two or three good belly laughs on every single page of this book.

In Hogfather, the author puts his characters into interesting situations and allows us to watch how the world around them reacts to their presence. My favourite scene is when death himself despite being a black cloaked skeleton decides to try and carry out the tasks of the missing hogfather. Imagine avericious children in a shopping mall grotto coming face to face with the grim reaper who is trying hard to be as unthreatening as he can be and you begin to get an idea of the comic world that Pratchett explores.

There is much here to please anyone who likes to lightly tickle the odd philosophical conundrum but equally there is plenty of action and a host of very memorable characters.

Suitable for everyone from early teens to grown-ups The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett is a Christmas read to savour every year.