The Tiffany Aching series is pigeonholed in the “young adult” section, basically meaning it’s for teenagers. Yet I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading every book so far. (Hey, I actually was a teenager when The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky were published… I just discovered the series a bit late, that’s all. Now get off my lawn!)
Anyway, if we think about the intended audience, the greatest thing about this book is that Tiffany Aching is a wonderful role model for young ladies (and men). Pretty much every second page we are reminded that she is a self-made witch (and that made me think of the contrast with Harry Potter’s world of hereditary wizardry). To quote my favorite passage: “you weren’t born with a talent for witchcraft: it didn’t come easily; you worked hard at it because you wanted it. You forced the world to give it to you, no matter the price, and the price is and always will be, high.”
That sums it all up. Even though the concept is pounded in the reader’s head constantly throughout the series, somehow it doesn’t get boring. Maybe because there aren’t enough stories like this. These books are diametrally opposite to all the Disney crap that young minds are subjected to nowadays.
And the protagonist, while being a great role model, never gets artificial or annoying as role models sometimes do. In fact, she feels real and alive and I have to reluctantly admit that it’s the first time that I’ve felt like I wanted to give a hug to a fictional character. That’s how much empathy the author creates here. Or maybe it’s just me.
The plot is captivating, as is usual for Pratchett. A few glitches here and there suggest that the book has not been edited meticulously; sometimes things happen too fast, sometimes the style feels like you’re reading an early draft. I wasn’t too impressed with the bad guy either; he simply didn’t feel nearly as “cunning” as he’s supposed to be. Sadly, this book was written at a time when Sir Terry knew he had little time remaining here on Roundworld, so I understand why he would be in a rush to get as many stories as possible out of his head and on paper. Normally that would be less than a five-star rating, but this book touched my emotions in such a way that I’m giving it five stars, no matter what.