I Shall Wear Midnight
Doubleday UK, 2010
‘Look’, I said, ‘I’m not interested in reading about weirdos in cloaks running about casting spells and looking all moody’. The look on my friend’s face was of sheer horror and so it should have been. Book prejudice is a terrible thing, dear reader, and yes, I confess it was one I was guilty of when it came to the genre of fantasy. Up until that point I was convinced that fantasy was for teenage boys who couldn’t get a girlfriend. To appease my friend (a grown man by the way who I’m sure could get a girlfriend if he really, really wanted to) and also to stop him nagging me, I read Eric one summer’s day. What started was a magnificent love affair, one that would have had my husband filing for divorce had it not involved a fictional world full of witches, wizards and long suffering police officers. 40 books later and you can well guess how my house is coming down with Discworld books.
In this particular title we return to the story of Tiffany Aching, a young witch in training with power and talent aplenty. I Shall Wear Midnight is the fourth title in the Tiffany Aching story arc and it is a particular favourite of mine. In this, we see Tiffany face her deadliest foe yet, helped along the way by natural stubbornness, witch’s pride and of course, a handsome young man and the morally challenged Nac MacFeegles. Tiffany’s power attracts an old evil in the form of the Cunning Man and slowly she starts to see everyone around her turn against her. Suddenly the old prejudices against witches rears up and she finds herself locked in the dungeons with only the Nac MacFeegles and a goat to console her. She has to travel to Ankh Morpork and while there she runs into city witches, discovers the home of Boffo and witnesses the Kings Neck become the Kings Back. But it is on her own home turf that she faces her fears. Will her witch pride see her through? Or maybe her cleverness? Maybe the Nac MacFeegles will absolutely not help her just like she told them not to. After all, this is hags business.
This book contains lots of elements that are appealing to readers young and old. Blossoming love, danger, silliness and little blue men in kilts shouting ‘Crivens’ are just a few I could mention. The story introduces characters old and new and weaves them together in typical Pratchett fashion. It’s wonderful to see Tiffany develop in not only age but also maturity. But what’s clever about Pratchett is his ability to include valuable life lessons within beautiful stories and never does it come across as preaching. His use of puns, jokes and hiding knowledge within names is marvelous and for younger readers, his style and prose is engaging. You will laugh out loud (tears optional), cheer with glee and dearly wish to see a hare run through the fire on a summer’s day. I Shall Wear Midnight is a great books for all ages and I hope that it’s not the last we see of Tiffany Aching. Just beware the tappin’ o’ the feet. Oh waily, waily, waily.
Reviewed by Laura McLaughlin, September 2012.