Scrolls Review – I Shall Wear Midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett (ISBN 9780385611077)

The trouble with reviewing books is that reading a full length novel is a much more time-consuming activity than, say, watching the latest episode of a TV series or ploughing through a comic.  It’s difficult to keep up with the latest releases, especially when you’ve got several shelves full of older ‘new’ books looking at you accusingly and demanding to know when it will finally be their turn.  However, I will always make room in my schedule for the latest Terry Pratchett book because a: they are always very good and b: they never take very long to get through.  In fact, in the case of I Shall Wear Midnight I got through it over the course of a weekend.

This is the latest in the Tiffany Aching series which are categorised as children’s books but, as any Pratchett fan will know, that doesn’t really mean much.  He is quite prepared to bring as much in the way of darkness and big ideas to his younger readers as you will find any of the ‘adult’ Discworld books.  In fact, I Shall Wear Midnight is one of the darkest books in the entire Discworld series.  He sets the tone early on when young witch Tiffany Aching has to deal with a particularly nasty instance of domestic violence.  Throughout the book he raises big questions about the nature of good and evil and what makes good (and less good) people do evil things.  Themes of religion, superstition and intolerance are touched on as well.  Of course, the Nac Mac Feegles are on hand to ensure that the weightiness is balanced with a wee dram of pint-sized, punchy humour.

As Tiffany carries out the often thankless and distinctly unglamorous task of being the resident witch of the Chalk she begins to notice that something is wrong.  Some of the local people have begun to treat her with suspicion and the ill feeling seems to be spreading.  It doesn’t help that her semi-romantic interest Roland is due to marry someone else within a few days and he too has started acting oddly.  Something dark and very unpleasant has awoken and it has its sights set of Tiffany.  Of course Tiffany has lost nothing of her characteristic resourcefulness and determination and she is not about to go down without a fight.

I Shall Wear Midnight rattles along at a fair old pace but Pratchett  still finds room for character development, a few powerfully emotional moments and a healthy dose of silliness.  The only criticism I have of this book is that because of its fairly slight word count some potentially interesting plot elements are left unexplored.  However he does hint that there might be wider implications to Tiffany’s adventures which may carry through to the ongoing Discworld series.  If you are new to the Discworld, this probably isn’t the best place to start (at least read the other Tiffany Aching books first) but if you are a fan it is a must-have for your collection.

4 ½ out of 5

Review by Clover Winton-Polak

Published in: on 14/10/2010 at 8:47 am  Leave a Comment  

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