Reviewed by Jeanne
Thirteen year old Tiffany Aching is continuing her training to be a witch. At the moment, she’s apprenticed to Miss Treason, a 113 year old witch whose house is festooned with cobwebs and skulls to impress the locals. She takes Tiffany out one cold night to watch the dancing, because she says it must be witnessed—and not to dance. It’s very cold and very dark, and seems to get colder as they go into the woods. Tiffany is a bit disappointed and mystified to find that it’s only Morris folk dancers, like those she’s seen traveling around the countryside when they can get past the public houses. What is so important about Morris dancers? Though to be fair, something does seem a bit different, a bit off…
Tiffany’s feet don’t think so, though, as her foot starts tapping and before she knows it she is dancing—and catching the attention of one of the most important dance participants.
The Wintersmith has never really noticed humans, but he finds himself infatuated with this girl who has dared to join the dance. He wants her for his wife. He woos her with snowflakes in her image, with ice roses, and blizzards that threaten to kill everything living. Tiffany has never quite had a real boyfriend, so dealing with one of this magnitude is quite a challenge. She will need all her wits and all her friends to save her world.
And the Wee Free Men are going to help, of course, not to mention a rogue cheese named Horace, an assortment of witches, and maybe even a boy in not so shining armor.
Pratchett continues to delight me with is sly, humorous, and insightful tales. Tiffany Aching is one of my favorite parts of the Discworld series as it follows a young girl from age 9 as she learns her trade as a witch. It’s less about magic and more about understanding people—or people-like creatures like the Wee Free Men aka the Feegles who are small blue pictsies with more courage than brains. They fear no creature but the idea of math has them quaking in their boots. I understand that.
As usual, Pratchett delivers laughs and lessons in a wonderfully concocted tale. Do start with Wee Free Men, though, to get the full effect. Meeting the Feegles for the first time is not to be missed.
The Tiffany Aching series in order:
I Shall Wear Midnight
The Shepherd’s Crown