Terry Pratchett: Maskerade
How anyone can so irreverently parody the classics and still make them the best thing since sliced bread is a trick only Terry Pratchett seems to know. Maskerade is a wholesome and energetic spoof of the old classic Phantom of the Opera, which no doubt has Lon Chaney turning in his grave.
Take an opera, a beautiful woman, a classified idiot and three -- well, okay two witches and there you have it. Chaos, mayhem and disaster reign as the phantom throttles the highly strung musical director, bags the rat catcher and threatens to bring the place down in a roaring climax.
Who is this mysterious masked man? Who leaves chocolates for the cleaning lady then smashes the organ for a little amusement? Granny Weatherwax, visiting the big city to help her friend Nanny Ogg collect the royalties on her latest cookbook, decides to find out.
Granny Weatherwax didn't intend to help her fellow witch -- er, singer, Perdita X Nitt. Well, Granny Weatherwax won't admit she did, anyway. Perdita, aka Agnes, has decided that the lure of the stage, the music and the cry, "The show must go on!" was far preferable to turning cats into men. Or should that be princes to frogs?
Agnes practices her singing and ghost-sings for Christine. That is, she sings the words for the up and coming soloist Christine, whose sylph-like figure is to Agnes' generous curves what Agnes' voice is to Christine's squeak. A match made in opera?
The combination of Agnes' secret midnight rendezvous with the phantom, and the discovery of her ability to sing several octaves simultaneously start Agnes on a career toward prima donna. Hindered only by a body that takes a few minutes to decide to follow her.
Other than that, there is the expected mix of the undercover cops (who wear their helmets to the soiree), midnight chases, secret doors and dank maze-like cellars. Oh, and I mustn't forget to mention the orangutan who plays the organ.
If you've ever read any of Terry Pratchett's books you will know what to expect. And you will not be disappointed. Definitely a book for the collection.
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