Tiffany Aching is an interesting 9 year-old. She’s always been a bit different, fond of asking unending questions, reading the entire dictionary, and being nosy. In short, she’s smart and curious — sure signs of a witch.
As far as anyone is concerned, you just can’t grow a good witch on the Chalk; the area is too soft and brittle. So when Miss Tick, herself a witch, sees Tiffany dispatching Jenny Green-Teeth with the aplomb of a witch four times her age, she’s taken aback.
Something bad is happening; two worlds are colliding, allowing the creatures Tiffany has only read about in books to cross into the mortal world. Miss Tick, as well as every other witch she knows, is powerless once her feet touches the Chalk.
So it’s up to Tiffany, with the assistance of the six-inch-high, blue-skinned, fighting, cursing, stealing, and drinking fae known as the Wee Free Men, to save her home — and the world itself.
A great read
This book is actually two books in one: The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky, both a part of the Discworld series. The plots are of course different, but they’re both magical (although I think I prefer A Hat Full of Sky just a bit more). The more Terry Pratchett I read, the further in love with his writing I fall.
Tiffany is one tough cookie, which is especially amazing to Miss Tick, who at first can’t believe that the girl could be a witch. Normally witches can’t grow on the Chalk, because they need good, hard rock and soil to use their powers. But Tiffany has been influenced heavily by her grandmother, Granny Aching, who may have been more than the simple shepherd she seemed.
The Wee Free Men come from a world all their own, where stealing, fighting, and drinking are the order of the day. They never help anyone (they prefer to cause mischief), and they never appear in the presence of, much less speak to and aid, anyone — not even witches. Tiffany, however, seems to have quite a hold over them, as if they are intimidated and awed by her.
The second story is even better
While The Wee Free Men covers Tiffany’s first forays into witchcraft, A Hat Full of Sky chronicles her time working as the student of Miss Level, a witch in a nearby town. Miss Level is a perfectly nice witch, even if her house is a bit…odd, and despite being a little homesick and chafing at the idea that all witches seem to do is make tea and sit with sick people, Tiffany is doing well.
But despite her age and lack of training, Tiffany is a powerful witch — and there are many dark things that can sense power, and crave it. An invisible foe has followed her, and creeps closer every day. It is only with the help of the Wee Free Men, as well as some new friends, that Tiffany will be able to save herself from certain doom.
The long and short of it
These are two amazing stories set in a gorgeous and painstakingly-developed world. The plots and writing are clever, and the characters lovable and hilarious. And if that weren’t enough to make me ridiculously happy, Pratchett brings forth some fabulous themes and broader ideas that make the stories even more wonderful.
I think I may have found a new favorite author…
“Granny Aching had been an expert on sheep, even though she called them ‘just bags of bones, eyeballs, and teeth, lookin’ for new ways to die.’ ” (The Wee Free Men, p. 13)
“She had to say that because she was a witch and a teacher, and that’s a terrible combination. They want things to be right. They like things to be correct. If you want to upset a witch, you don’t have to mess around with charms and spells — you just have to put her in a room with a picture that’s hung slightly crooked and watch her squirm.” (A Hat Full of Sky, p. 17)
*Just a quick note that I am out of town from 8/14 – 8/20. Posts should be going up automatically, but I’ll be really slow on responding to comments until I get back. Thanks for your patience, and have a great week!*