Wyrd Sisters | Terry Pratchett

From title onward, Wyrd Sisters is a joy-filled recrafting of Macbeth and monarchy at large, one that exposes the ridiculousness of hereditary authoritarianism as a premise. It is, at the same time, a zesty ode to the prowess of theater and of the written word.

The parody of Macbeth is so multidimensional that it is difficult to parse or even to praise. Many of the Shakespearean characters have direct comedic counterparts, but as does the Bard himself, in the form of a rather grumpy dwarf with a rebellious streak. The witches are undeniably magical, but most of their magic seems purely psychological—what they refer to as “headological”. All this is mixed with sexual innuendos that are almost disturbing, though so lightly implied that we wonder if it is our own dirty minds twisting the perfectly innocent words. (It is not.)

The titular witches have a no-bullshit brand of humor that subscribes to a British schoolteacher tradition. It is in turn Mary Poppins-ish, Roald Dahl-ish, and at its darkest Miss Jean Brodie-ish. Some gems of wisdom include:

“She’d never mastered the talent for apologizing, but she appreciated it in other people.”

“‘People have to sort it out for themselves. Well-known fact.’”

“Ninety per cent of true love is acute, ear-burning embarrassment.”

“Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.”

There is all in all very little to say of such a work, for the same reasons that it is difficult to critique P.G. Wodehouse or Monty Python. A summary: If this is your type of humor, the book will be infinitely bountiful and entertaining for you. If this is not your type of humor, well, then, we are just very different kinds of people.