Review: I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

Somewhere – some time – there’s a tangled ball of evil and spite, of hatred and malice, that has woken up. 
And it’s waking up all the old stories too – stories about evil old withces….
‘I Shall Wear Midnight’ is the thirty eight novel in the Discworld series.  It is set on the Discworld, which is basically a disc supported by a bunch of elephants, on the back of a giant turtle.  It is clearly a fantasy series, and a very funny one at that.  In many ways in is a satire of the fantasy genre, especailly in the early books.  ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’ is one of the Discworld novels that are for a younger audience, but many fully grown fans think the books for younger readers are just as good as the normal ones.  This novel follows the character of Tiffany Aching, a sixteen year old witch who has featured in three prior novels. Even though this book, like the rest of the Discworld series can be read out of order or on its own, it helps to have read the earlier instalments pertaining to her. 
I am lost for words at what to say about ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’.  I love the Discworld novels, they are always funny but also make me think about how I see things around me.  Sir Terry Pratchett has this amazing ability to make people happy through his books, while also telling more truth in his works than most authors can get away with.  ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’ is one of those novels that does an especially good job at it.  It is sad and at times frightening, but not in a gory, cheap way.  This novel begins with the deaths of two people – an old man and a newborn baby.  The first from old age, the other because a young woman’s father beats her half to death causing her to lose her baby.  Tiffany has to deal with both, in her line of work as a witch.  She also has to deal with prejudice, and the impact it can have on people’s lives.  She reflects over the human cost of hate – an old woman was killed years ago for looking like a witch.   The enemy Tiffany faces this time is not one that she can destroy – instead she can only get rid of the Cunning Man for a short period of time.  He basically is hate. 
Despite all the above, ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’ is also a very sweet and fun book.  One of the themes of the novel is that of self-fulfillment ‘Ye know full well that the meaning of life is to find your gift.  To find your gift is happiness.  Never tae find it is a misery.’  Jeannie.  Happiness is a subject that is explored, and not to spoil too much for anyone, but Tiffany learns that she has to know herself and trust herself in order to succeed.  Additionally, the Nac Mac Feegles are back, and as always they are hilarious.  But, like the rest of the novel, the reader gets to see a little bit under their skin which in a sense makes them more real, and funnier.  The prose is very electric, and at times very touching.  To quote the  Daily Telegraph at the back of the book ‘A passion for language, wordplay, and puns bursts from the pages’
‘I Shall Wear Midnight’ was a novel that I had wanted to read for a while, and in a way dreaded reading.  I love all the ‘witches’ books that I have read in the Discworld series, and am not ashamed to say that I am attached to the characters.  I knew that this was potentially the last book that features these characters and I think the ending made it clear that Tiffany Aching will not feature in a Discworld novel again.  I found it an emotional book, but also a very wise and honest one.  I would recommend this to anyone, because it is just brilliant.  Dare I say a masterpiece? 



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