Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett. ★★★★★
Carpe Jugulum is the twenty-third book in the Discworld series and the sixth following the witches. I’d suggest starting with the witches at Wyrd Sisters, since you’ll get more out of the book if you know the characters ahead of time.
Carpe Jugulum is witches vs. vampires. Lancre is preparing for the naming of their new princess, and the king sends out an invitation to a neighboring family of vampires. And once they’ve arrived, they have no intention of leaving…
“Granny was an old-fashioned witch. She didn’t do good for people, she did right by them.”
As always, I love the witches. This is a group of smart and formidable women who work together despite their bickering and clashes of personalities. Nanny Ogg, Agnes, Margrat, and especially Granny Weatherwax are all wonderful characters.
After her absence from Maskerade, Magrat has returned to the scene. She’s now a queen and a mother, while Agnes is the youngest witch. This change in dynamics has all the witches trying to find their place.
Granny meanwhile may have met her match in the vampires. She’s worn down by a life lived on the edge of darkness, but she has to keep fighting and making choices, even when there is no right choice in sight.
“You had to choose. You might be right, you might be wrong, but you had to choose, knowing that the rightness or wrongness might never be clear or even that you were deciding between two sorts of wrong, that there was no right anywhere. And always, always, you did it by yourself. You were the one there, on the edge, watching and listening. Never any tears, never any apology, never any regrets… You saved all that up in a way that could be used when needed.”
It’s moments like this that really make Carpe Jugulum rise beyond a vampire parody.
Not to say that it doesn’t work well as a parody – it’s hilarious as always, and Pratchett manages to mock countless numbers of vampire legends and tropes from the old fashioned Dracula types to the modern day sexy love interests.
“And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things.”
Carpe Jugulum either ties with Lords and Ladies or edges it out as the best witches novel. This is a fantastic book and a fantastic series. I highly recommend it to everyone, particularly if you’ve read some of the prior witches novels.