Review of I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT by Terry Pratchett (see his website)
TIFFANY ACHING #4
HarperCollins, September 2011
Young witch Tiffany Aching keeps herself busy trying to keep society from breaking down and clipping toenails for an elderly woman who otherwise couldn't get around. She barely has time for sleep, let alone a social life. Still, seeing the son of the local baron, the boy she once rescued and who she once thought would be her husband, with a new fiancee, is painful to her. When the old baron dies and Tiffany is accused of being somehow responsible, the heir seems willing to believe everything bad about Tiffany no matter the years they've spent together.
Being a witch always comes with a certain amount of danger. The priests of Ohm may not actively pursue witch-burning any more, but there are plenty willing to blame the witch for anything that goes wrong. The 'rough music' can start up just about any time and when it does, someone generally pays. Despite everything Tiffany does, it looks like it she might be the one who pays this time.
Tiffany does have allies--the Wee Free Men (Feegle) are willing to fight for her any time. Of course if you don't want a fight, they're still willing to fight--it's what they do. Oddly, the other witches are less help than she would have thought. They do offer clues though, and Tiffany discovers that a long-dead witch-burner has somehow returned from beyond the grave and is behind the surge of hatred that affects not only her but all witches. Unfortunately, the witches have decided that either Tiffany will handle the spirit or they'll handle...Tiffany.
Using a magical broomstick, "help" from the Feegle, a bit of magic and plenty of common sense, Tiffany adds saving the world to the list of tasks she's got to accomplish.
Author Terry Pratchett (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Pratchett) concludes his Tiffany Acking miniseries with a strong and enjoyable entry in I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT. Tiffany has grown from a girl to a young woman, has endured heartbreak, and is coming to terms with her life as a witch. Pratchett combines humor with fantasy action and social commentary to create a story that will attract the teen-reader this series is ostensibly targetted to, but will also be enjoyable for the adult reader.
Although the Tiffany stories are set in Discworld, this has been a part of Discworld set apart from Ankh-Morpork. Here, Pratchett completes the integration, letting Tiffany visit a witch store in that great capital and deal with the Guard and witches from Ankh-Morpork. The real enjoyment of this story, though, comes from watching an extraordinary young woman deal with problems--while trying to preserve an essential goodness that all of us, I think, aspire to.
I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT can be enjoyed without reading the entire Tiffany Aching series. Fans of the series will get a bit of extra pleasure watching Tiffany's evolution. I enjoyed MIDNIGHT a lot.
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