Somewhat like Guards!, Guards!, it took me a while to read Reaper Man, by Terry Pratchett, but this time it was because I kept having to stop and laugh and read bits out loud if anyone was within earshot. Somewhat like Mort, Death takes a leave of absence, only this time it’s forced on him, and Mort isn’t available to pick up the slack.
One of the first signs of trouble is when Windle Poons, the oldest wizard, fails to die on time. Everyone is so surprised they do their best to “fix” the matter. One even says:
If anyone’s going to bury a wizard at a crossroads with a stake hammered through him, then wizards ought to do it. After all, we’re his friends.
Lucky for him, Poons escapes their attentions and finds new friends in a gaggle of the unlikeliest undead you ever saw. They have their moments. Meanwhile, without an active Death, life boils over and gives birth to the city’s deadliest predator: a mall. As they try to fight it off, the wizards try to act macho, (Dean shout Yo! every other page) but just look stupid.
I liked more the various other Deaths that spring up to fill in the gaps, especially the Death of Rats. Death himself, having been rendered mortal, goes to work for the kindly old widow out in the country. He does such a good job at the harvest (no one can beat his scythework) and an even better one expertly making dramatic mistakes in games, the country folk call him Good Old Bill Door. I have to say I wasn’t all that surprised that he managed to bring his part of the story to a fitting end.