Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Shall Wear Midnight - Terry Pratchett

'I Shall Wear Midnight' is the fourth book about Tiffany Aching. Tiffany is a witch and she’s run off her feet. She’s not even sixteen but she’s the one who is called in by the people of the Chalk to deal with births and deaths. She’s also responsible for all the assorted nursing that everyone else is too busy to do or even think about, like cutting old ladies toenails. Usually Tiffany cannot remember when she last ate or slept in a proper bed. But even though she is doing all the work no one wants to do people seem to be suspicious of her. Tiffany knows that people always dislike witches a bit because they wish that they did not need them but it seems that the dislike is getting out of hand. And the kelda of the Nac Mac Feegles is telling her that that there is danger in her future. Tiffany may not have the time or energy to think about or fear what is in store for her but she will have to face it soon.

'I Shall Wear Midnight' is another excellent book by Pratchett. Like his other books concerning witches it deals with close knit communities and the problems that arise in them. Though the world it is set in seems old fashioned the ideas put forward are not. Tiffany and her fellow witches are involved in doing damage control for all the bad things that can happen in a community as well as being the equivalent of a local doctor. People think that magic can fix everything but Tiffany knows that sometimes difficult decisions have to be made and sometimes it is not deciding what the ‘good’ choice is but which of the two bad choices is the best. In an earlier book concerning Granny Weatherwax she plays Death for the choice of whether a mother or her baby dies. It is these choices that Tiffany is talking about in this book, the ones that you do not speak about afterwards but have to be made by someone. In Pratchett’s books it is witches that have to make them. Tiffany is not even an adult and she has to make decisions where there is no right choice. This book is partly about the fear that people who make such decisions can provoke in society and how it can lead society to turn on those who are trying to help them. Of course, it has the humour and excitement of all the Discworld books. No book containing the infamous Nac Mac Feegles (also known as Pictsies) could fail to be hilarious. While these are my favourite characters for providing amusement, the rest of the cast also lived up to expectations.

For Pratchett fans this book ties up a few loose ends and brings up old characters that might have been forgotten. There are also some fascinating new characters that can at times be very surprising! As there often is, there is a little crossover with characters from other Discworld subseries and it is fun to see people who are usually protagonists appearing in the background. The plot is fast moving and it is sometimes very scary. The importance of everyday life to the book means that the dangerous magical forces are even more terrifying in contrast.

As always I believe Terry Pratchett’s books are suitable for all age groups but this book is listed as Young Adult so I’ll put it down as 10+.

'I Shall Wear Midnight' is out at the start of September. It is a fantastic read and will not disappoint Pratchett’s fans.

My thanks to Doubleday for providing me with an advance copy for review.


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