When Tiffany Aching – young witch – steps into a dance she shouldn’t, the spirit of winter falls in love with her. He gives her roses and icebergs, says it with avalanches and showers her with snowflakes – and suddenly winter is all around her. All the time. With the help of the Nac Mac Feegle, first met in The Wee Free Men, and a bit of advice from witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, Tiffany must put the mess right – or there will never be another springtime …
There are spoilers ahead
This is the third book in the Tiffany Aching series, which is part of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld universe. The previous two books being The Wee Free Men & A Hat Full of Sky, both of which I’ve already read to my 9 year old and 3 year old daughters. All the kids love these books, especially the Nac Mac Feegle (in my best attempt at a Scottish accent too). Alanah, my eldest, is particularly fond of the Feegles, she finds them hilarious. I sometimes hear her crying "Crivens!" to her siblings throughout the day.
Currently we’re about half way through the book. For those who’ve read it, Tiffany has just moved in with Nanny Ogg.
As with all of Terry Pratchett’s books, this book is part fantasy, part comedy and part social commentary. The Tiffany series is actually a spin-off of the witches series of books and shares a few of the characters, particularly Granny Weatherwax & Nanny Ogg. These Tiffany books are aimed at a child/teenage audience (I think they’re classified as ‘Young Adult Fiction’), so it has less violence and innuendo than in some of the other Discworld novels. It does mention the Feegles and their “fightin’ an boozin’” where they get “pished” (I had to explain those last two).
Also, there are some interesting themes introduced in this book. Essentially the Wintersmith, i.e. the anthropomorphic personification of Winter, falls in love with Tiffany. This is the first time in the Tiffany books that romantic love is really talked about openly. It was hinted at in Hat Full of Sky, but never really gone into. In this one Tiffany has to deal with not only the Wintersmith’s feelings for her, but also her own confusion around how she feels about that, plus her definitely-not-boyfriend-just-a-boy-who-she-writes-to Roland. Sex is actually mentioned briefly:
"Is this about sex?" asked Tiffany.
Miss Tick looked at the ceiling. Granny Weatherwax cleared her throat. Nanny gave a huge laugh that would have embarrassed even the little wooden man.
"Sex?" she said. "Between Summer and Winter? Now there’s a thought."
"Don’t…think…it," said Granny Weatherwax sternly. She turned to Tiffany. "He’s fascinated by you, that’s what it is. …"
This section went past without any comment or question surprisingly enough.
I’ve read all the Tiffany books previously (actually there’s only a couple of the Discworld books I haven’t read) so I get a lot of pleasure anticipating my kids’ reactions to the sections that are coming up. The book picks up the pace after this, with Annagramma’s troubles, the snow and then confronting the Wintersmith. I’m really interested to see what Alanah makes of this one.