Jamie Reviews: Terry Pratchett—"I Shall Wear Midnight"

Having the opportunity to review a new Terry Pratchett book is akin to getting up close to a terminally endangered species; there is that moment of awe and then sadness that this may be the last time you see one in the flesh.

Terry does what in most cases is considered impossible; not only does he persevere through his illness but he consistently produces works that challenge the reader. This is doubly true for his most recent young adult novel, I Shall Wear Midnight.

This novel does not shy away from topics that may cause a younger reader to blush or shiver; there are elements that are fall into the realm of the adult, and it does not pander to the audience.

The novel itself is the fourth in the Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series. And, true to form, as the main character grows, so does the complexity of the story. Tiffany is now being sixteen years of age and the only witch living on the Chalk. There is an underlying feel to this book of a youth cut short in favour of responsibility; but, as this is based more on personal choice than obligation, it lacks the accompanying melancholy that would usually follow such a theme. There are, of course, in-jokes that have followed on from the earlier books in this series and indeed from some of the more adult Discworld novels. Other story elements have also carried over, but this book manages to stand alone for those who have not read the earlier novels.

In I Shall Wear Midnight, Pratchett takes the history of witch hunting under his inquisitive eye; a subject not generally deemed appropriate for younger readers, and places his characters in the path of aggression and fear. This could have been a dangerous topic to introduce into a young adult novel but Pratchett makes it approachable in his usual satirical way.

The Nac Mac Feegles, (an army of small, blue humanoids) of course make a reappearance, to both the annoyance and assistance of Tiffany. In terms of both plot device and comedy elements,  these excitable characters are necessary to the storytelling process. Pratchett has done well to instil, in even these minor characters, lashings of personality and their own quirks.

Once started, this novel is difficult to put down. There is plentiful comedy, be it rather dark for the most part, and a narrative that keeps driving the reader forward.

This is a novel that is well worth picking up at the first opportunity.

I Shall Wear Midnight – Terry Pratchett

September 28, 2010 Harper Collins

Hardback 368 Pages

ISBN 0061433047

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