This is the fourth book about Tiffany Aching, a resident witch in the chalk hill country of what appears to be England, but is actually part of the author’s made-up place Discworld. It’s a very old rural England part of Discworld, anyway, and Tiffany, despite her young age, has worked hard to make a place for herself and her magic in the district she grew up in. Helping her are a band of tiny but very powerful creatures, the Nac Mac Feegles, who consider Tiffany to be under their protection, whether she likes it or not, and sometimes she doesn’t.
Being a witch in this time and place is very hard work, combining elements of herbalist, doctor, midwife, undertaker, psychiatrist, elder caretaker, magic advisor, and many other things. She has special powers over fire, and a broomstick to fly on, as well as other magic, but hardly has a chance to enjoy it. As we meet Tiffany in this book, she is running herself ragged trying to handle all the problems brought to her, and bigger threats are waiting off-stage to pounce. As problems mount, it seems like everyone is against the girl except her family and the Feegles, even those who had been good friends. Advice is gained in a trip to the big city, but more trouble emerges there as well.
The first half of this book is what I call a “piling-on” plot, where new difficulties keep being added onto the shoulders of the protagonist until it seems she’ll never overcome them. Not my favorite kind of story. Fortunately, in the second half Tiffany begins to find new friends and allies that can help her, and Tiffany’s own cleverness begins to win out over steep odds, leading to a very satisfying resolution.
I’ve enjoyed all the Tiffany Aching books, and there’s one more to go, completed not long before Pratchett’s death, I think. And lots of other Discworld books I haven’t read yet. I’m looking forward to more. Recommended.