Publisher: HarperCollins e-books
Category: YA Fantasy
Synopsis: Tiffany is back in the Chalk working as a witch but something is going on and the there are whisperings about witches. Also her old friend Roland is getting married and acting strange.
My Thoughts: Now this one I LOVED! The age old story about evil walking amongst us spreading rumour and discord. Not to mention the confusing feelings when someone we loved moves on, and how to stay friends when this happens. Also quite a bit of Feegles.
The book starts out in pastoral setting with the annual fair, but then quickly lurches into a much more serious topic of domestic violence (side note, Jungle Red Writers have a great post on this topic) where Tiffany has to intervene in several ways. I thought this theme was very well done, with Tiffany’s bewilderment over why the wife stayed mirroring my own at times. It was also interesting to see her reaction to the Rough Music that follows the revengeful hoard. By putting a name to the frenzied activity Pratchett managed to make it more physically real somehow.
The Feegles Kelda Jennie plays a much bigger role in this book than she has in the past and it was nice to see yet another strong female character in addition to the Witches.
Perhaps the biggest theme in this book is the existence of a menacing evil force, in this book in the guise of the Cunning Man. The Cunning Man comes to embody the concept of witch hunts (both figurative and literal). The Cunning Man causes the people of the Chalk in general, and Roland in particular, to turn against Tiffany. At first this confuses her but with the help of assorted other witches she comes to realise that she has caused the Cunning Man to come after her, and now she must defeat him. I thought this was a perfect metaphor for taking responsibility for your own actions, a theme that has run through several of the Tiffany Aching stories.
Another theme of this book is living up to expectations. Not necessarily the expectations placed on us by those who see us most closely but rather the expectations put on us by society by virtue of our looks. Both Tiffany and Letitia, Rolands wife to be, are to a certain degree, victims of societies ideas of what one should be based on looks. This makes for an interesting discussion regarding physical appearances and actions, as well as our own prejudices.
As always the Feegles (and Horace and the Toad) are around to provide both support and comic relief, the cheese rolling incident had me rolling with laughter. In this book Tiffany is also joined by a new friend, Preston, of the Barons Guards, who is clever but poor. The addition of Preston was a perfect one I think. Tiffany and he are great together, he is smart but somehow very grounded in his way of thinking.
I also thought the change of necklace to be a genius one. Somehow the horse didn’t quite feel like Tiffany, it was more Roland, to high borne, whereas the hare, seems more earthy and witchy somehow.