Terry Pratchett – Wintersmith
Read By: Stephen Briggs
Length: 8h 32min (464 pages)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Started: 12 May 2009
Finished: 19 May 2009
up, but Winter does not make
a good first boyfriend.
Summary: It’s normal for a thirteen-year-old girl to start having boy problems. But Tiffany Aching is not a normal girl, and her boy problems are not about a normal boy. Okay, there is Roland, the son of the baron of the Chalk, who gets stammery around her, and writes her letters while she continues her witch training. But someone else has fallen in love with Tiffany, and that someone is the Wintersmith – the god of winter itself! When Tiffany joins in the Dark Morris dance that marks the changing of summer to winter, she attracts the attention of the elemental god, and she begins to take the place of the Summer Lady, the Wintersmith’s normal opposite and partner. Any attention from the gods is dangerous (not to mention disruptive to learning the practice of witchcraft), but when it’s romantic attention, there’s a whole extra layer of complications for Tiffany to sort out… along with her perennial allies, the Nac Mac Feegles.
Review: While I still enjoyed this book quite a bit, I don’t think it lived up to either of its two predecessors, The Wee Free Men or A Hat Full of Sky. Partly, I think this was due to the structure; Wintersmith‘s first chapter starts in the middle of the crisis, then skips back in time, and the pacing throughout the rest of the story just felt a little bit off… spending a long time on some more tangential aspects of the plot while hurrying through others. Partly, it was due to the nature of the conflict; I didn’t feel the Wintersmith was particularly menacing or dangerous (especially compared to the Faery Queen or the Hiver), and Tiffany never seemed that concerned about her problems. But mostly, I think, it was due to the comparative absence of the Feegles. Tiffany’s a fine, multi-dimensional, and sympathetic protagonist, and the other characters that surround her are all interesting in their own right, but the Feegles are undeniably the stars of the show, and their screen time is somewhat reduced in this installment.
I want to reiterate that I did really enjoy this book. The Feegles, when they were around, got in some lines that made me truly laugh out loud, and the rest of the book manages a similar sly sense of humor throughout without feeling the need to be hi-larious every line. Even more, I really appreciate the worldview and sensibility that’s present in these books. Although they’re ostensibly for a YA audience, they don’t talk down to kids, don’t sugar coat the fact that the world isn’t always a nice place, and just generally seem to have their head screwed on right about issues surrounding growing up, how people relate to each other and themselves, and what it takes to be yourself and do right by others. At the same time, it’s not preachy, and wraps up its sensible opinions in a fun adventure in an interesting world, populated by bizarre witches, amusing normal folk, and hilarious little blue men. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Not quite as strong as the two that came before it, but still very much a worthwhile read if you’re looking for YA fantasy that’s not strictly for teens.
Links: Feegle Free-Fall (game)
First Line: When the storm came, it hit the hills like a hammer.
Quote: (to be read aloud in a thick Scottish burr) “There’s no a lot of laughs in an underworld. This one used to be called Limbo, ya ken, ’cause the door was verra low.”