Book clinic: which fantasy novelists can I turn to now that Terry Pratchett is gone?

Author Eoin Colfer, who wrote the final book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, advises a bereft reader

Q: I am reeling from the still painful demise of Sir Terry Pratchett. Which fantasy novels can I lose myself in now while also giggling at the satire and musing at the pathos?
Ben Sturgeon, 49, Humbie, Scotland, veterinary director for a working animal charity

Eoin Colfer, author of children’s fantasy novels including the acclaimed Artemis Fowl series, writes:

I am sorry to hear that you are reeling from Sir Terry’s passing, but be assured of one thing: you are far from alone. Anyone who associates the Grim Reaper with the immortal line “I COULD MURDER A CURRY” shares your pain. But there are ways to ameliorate your sorrow somewhat, if not completely.

My first port of call would be Douglas Adams’s seminal series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which needs no expanding upon for the faithful. Technically Arthur and co are more sci-fi than fantasy, but I would argue that there are certainly fantasy elements in the series (for which I wrote the sixth and final instalment, And Another Thing… in 2009), what with the inclusion of the Norse gods, and what it lacks in pixie dust it makes up for in stardust.

And speaking of Stardust, ahem… people sometimes forget that Neil Gaiman is not only one of the galaxy’s prime exponents of fantasy but also a rather hilarious gent – it’s dark humour, granted, but of the extremely funny kind. Check out Stardust, Coraline or Anansi Boys if you don’t believe me. Also, Mr Gaiman is second to none when it comes to sketching characters, and then wringing every drop of blood from our soft hearts as he puts them in deepest dark peril.

If you are one of the five people who has not read the Harry Potter series, perhaps I could suggest flinging aside any preconceived notions and finding out for yourself why JK Rowling is a treasure in this and any alternative universes. You will laugh, you will cry, you will declare for a Hogwarts house.

If you have any room left in your brain or on your shelves can I point you towards the incomparable Gormenghast series so that you may find out for yourself why it is a revered classic, but do be prepared never to trust anyone again, ever. If all of this fails, then your only option is to return to the Discworld section of your bookcase and start again.

Highfire, Eoin Colfer’s first adult fantasy novel, will be published on 28 January 2020

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Eoin Colfer

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