I finished reading the book Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett, while sitting in the waiting room as the dentist worked on the wires of my son’s braces in a nearby dentist’s chamber of horrors. The receptionist and secretary probably thought I was insane for incessantly chortling and making those other rude snorty noises you make when you don’t want to interrupt others with laughing, but can’t help it. What better way to wait in the cold chambers of dental anxiety than to read a funny, funny book about an assassin named Mr. Teatime who meant to slay the Hogfather, Terry Pratchett’s version of Santa Claus, by stealing children’s teeth from the tooth fairy and using them to control young minds and make them stop believing in the Hogfather, that giver of gifts on the sacred and festive Hogswatch Eve?
This story has an unusual hero. Death, that skeletal reaper of souls and talker in ALL CAPITOL LETTERS. Oh, and not just Death. His granddaughter Susan is along for the adventure. So Death puts on the red suit to make people believe in the Hogfather again while Susan tracks down the perpetrators of the tooth fairy plot.
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels are full of bizarre but highly developed characters who not only make you laugh, but make you think. The books can be fairly thick and full of complex ideas, and yet, the pages melt away as you read. And the people who can hear you laughing about the book will think you are absolutely crazy.