Wintersmith - Terry Pratchett image
Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my LOCUS Y-A list.

I think I’ll always have a soft-spot for imaginative young-adult speculative fiction and as the good people at Locus did such a grand job with picking their Sci-Fi winners, I’ll trust them to single out some special y-a books too.

I remember reading The Wee Free Men (the first in this Tiff Aching series) and not feeling terribly impressed, but I don’t actually remember much about the book. I find suspicious, as I generally have a better memory for fiction than reality. I don’t know if I had other things on my mind, or read it when I wasn’t sleeping well, or if I was just drunk – but the book didn’t stick. So I’m going to order a new copy to re-read soon.

But whether that initial ‘unimpressed feeling’ was deserved or not, it put me off picking up Wintersmith. My wife owned a copy which I’d been eyeing up ever since our bookcases merged. But it’s the third in the series – surely I should read book two (A Hat Full of Sky) first?

But it’s a Locus Young-Adult Award winner, and I needed something light between installments the two halves of Blackout/All Clear, so I grabbed it on the way to work and found myself thoroughly enjoying it!

I don’t know why I was surprised, I love Pratchett’s writing.
I was clearly just being a cynical douche about his y-a works!

Tiff’s encounters with the Wintersmith are vivid and magical, beautifully visually examples of Sir Terry’s imagination at work. But the real gems of the book (for me) are the minor strands that fill out Tiff’s world within the Wintersmith framing device. The Nac Mac Feegles are great characters with an infinite supply of comedy dialogue and perspectives (quote below). Roland’s mission to awaken the Summer Lady in the underworld contained my favourite moment in the book – when he battles the wraiths with his imaginary sword! The interactions between the teenage witches are great, as are Tiff’s reflections on Miss Treason’s ‘Boffo’. And the cameos from Ogg and Weatherwax are a touch of class for us long-standing witches fans.

A quick quote that made me giggle:
“When a bull coo meets a lady coo he disna have tae say, "My hert goes bang-bang-bang when I see your wee face," 'cuz it's kinda built intae their heads. People have it more difficult. Romancin' is verra important ye ken. Basically it's a way the boy can get close to the girl wi'oot her attackin' him and scratchin' his eyes oot.'
It’s a worthy addition to the Discworld canon and it’s encouraged me to re-read The Wee Free Men, and also grab a copy of Hat Full of Sky and I Shall Wear Midnight, but Wintersmith doesn’t quite measure up to the inspirational awesomeness of my favourites.

After this I read: All Clear