Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnapped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk’s local Nac Mac Feegle – aka the Wee Free Men – a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds – black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors – before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone….
People rave about Terry Pratchett all the time, and since his Discworld series has about a million books, I didn’t know where I should start. Tiffany Aching’s story is a separate YA arc in Discworld, and I’ve heard this recommended as a good place to start. While it is technically YA, it’s a refreshing read and it could definitely appeal to all age groups for different reasons and it’s just very charming for everyone.
Tiffany Aching is awesome. I want Tiffany to be my little sister. She is a charming, intelligent, funny, strong, curious, confident and lovely nine year old. Everyone loves Tiffany. Kids will love and relate to her and look up to her. While she’s mature, it really feels like you are reading about a nine year old, which is fantastic. There is nothing more annoying than a child who is written like an adult or what the authors (unrealistic) idea of a child is. Tiffany’s allies are the Nac Mac Feegle, or the Wee Free Men, who are hilarious and crazy. I think I might love them just as much as Tiffany. They provide a lot of the comedy in the book, and it is a very funny book. I laughed out loud two or three times, which a lot, because I never laugh during books. The Wee Free Men was filled with effortlessly funny moments.
The Chalk is a great setting, and Tiffany’s heritage plays a big role in the story. The book does still have a lot of depth mixed in with mischief and humor. Most of the serious parts of the story come from flashback-like anecdotes in italics that show up when Tiff is reminded of her grandmother or events involving her family and others on the Chalk. These were often very sad or foreboding and balanced out the story. They added an extra layer to the story and were always relevant to the present plot, not just there to be there. Tiffany’s love for her grandmother plays a big part in the story and the anecdotes help to illustrate Tiff’s emotional growth and maturation. The novel tackles a lot of darker themes and emotions really well.
My problem with The Wee Free Men was that the plot moved a little slowly, and dragged a lot in the middle. It would be better suited to a time when I didn’t want to plow through books like I do during the summer. During that middle part, it was very action oriented, even though not much was happening, and the strong aspects of the novel, like Tiffany’s personality and the humor was pushed aside a bit too much. Parts of the plot were a bit predictable and very similar to other children’s tales, especially reminding me of Coraline. Overall, not big problems but still detracting from my enjoyment.
Needless to say I was charmed by The Wee Free Men and I’m looking forward to picking up the sequel sometime when I need to read something a little different.
Genre: Young Adult /Children’s, Fantasy, Humor
Length: 375 pages