I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I started this book this morning and had a hard time putting it down to go places and do things. For a 'younger readers" book its themes are fairly hardcore. These include, but are not limited to, domestic abuse resulting in a miscarriage; an attempted suicide; death (only one of which includes a visitation from DEATH); time manipulation; the harm that can be done by unquestioning religious followers; and the consequences of witch hunting on harmless old women who's simply a bit strange.
Tiffany Aching is growing up fast, but she's still a slip of a girl, even though she's the Witch of the Chalk. She still has the Nac Mac Feegle following her every move and helping even when they're not asked (much of the humour derives from these scenes). As a witch, she's had to deal with some serious unpleasantness and ugliness, not least of which involves removing pain from the dying or badly hurt to carry it herself until she can get rid of it. Matters are not helped by the aforementioned blindly faithful who, although they sometimes need a witch's help, resent having to need that help and seem to have tapped into the old 'witches are evil' mentality. It's an ugly situation that is worsened by the release of The Cunning Man, a vile spirit that hates witches so much it has defied death for centuries and has now focused on Tiffany.
Despite the dark tones described above, there is still much humour, particularly when the Nac Mac Feegle venture into Ankh Morpork for the first time and find a long-lost member of the clan. Incidentally, the Feegle are an important part of the theme dealing with land ownership and lord/tenant issues.
There's a bullying persona, lots of unfair happenings and some intervention by senior witches, as well as a much-longed-for reappearance of a well-known character, and cameos by Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and others, not to mention a fair amount of Headology.
All in all, one of Pratchett's finest, and a definite must-read for anyone who enjoys thought-provoking novels in the guise of YA fiction. Suffice to say I will be re-reading it tomorrow, to see what else I can glean out of another look.
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