IShallWearMidnight

The fourth Tiffany Aching novel

and the thirty-eighth novel in the Discworld Series

Illustrated by Paul Kidby

Winner of the 2010 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy (SFWA)

UK hbk: Doubleday, 2 September 2010 (978-0-385-61107-7)
Bookproofs: 153 copies
Issued in the following formats
1) Standard edition
2) Collectors’s edition (for Amazon) limited to 2500 copies, with additional treatise by Jacqueline Simpson on the folklore in the book, an extra illustration by Paul Kidby (on opening page), special binding, in slipcase, (978-0-875-75022-6)
3) 350 copies sold and signed at midnight at Waterstones Piccadilly, with ‘Free limited edition print’ at end of book, title page signed by TP and stamped ‘Signed at midnight’ and ‘official signature’.
4) In November 2010 about 3,000 copies were issued with dustjackets having the jacket design printed over a mosaic of Facebook members’ portraits, described as a ‘SPECIAL FANS’ COVER FEATURING PHOTOS OF OVER 2000 FANS’. The jacket alone has a different ISBN – 978-0-857-53056-1.
4) Trade paperback: Doubleday, 2 September 2010 (978-0-385-61796-3)
Hbk edition with new Paul Kidby cover and map of The Chalk on the end-papers: Doubleday, 25 May 2017 (978-0-857-53548-1)

Massmarket: Corgi, 9 June 2011 (978-0-552-55559-3)
B format: Corgi (black/gold cover) 1 September 2011 (978-0-552-16411-5)

B format: Corgi (Kidby cover), 7 June 2012 (978-0-552-16605-8) This contained the first chapter of Dodger and of The Long Earth at the end.
New pbk with cover & illustrations by Laura Ellen Andresen: Corgi, 25 May 2017 (978-0-552-57633-8)

Large print: Isis, 2010 (hbk: 978-0-7531-8770-8; pbk: 978-0-7531-8771-5)


USA
hbk: HarperCollins, 28 September 2010, (trade 978-0-06-143304-7; Library binding: 978-0-06-143305-4)

Advance Reader’s Edition:
Book club: Bookspan

Pbk: Harper, 28 September 2011 (978-0-06-143306-1)

Bulgarian: Bчерно като полунощ, trs. Katia Ancheva, Arkhont-B Ood, 2013 (978-954-422-102-7)

Chinese [mainland] : Dook

Czech: Obléknu si Půlnoc, trs. Jan Kantörek, Talpress, 2011 (978-80-7197-428-4)

Dutch: Ik ga in Middernacht, trs. Venugopalan Ittekot, Boekerij, 2012 (978-90-225-5997-0)

Estonian: Ma kannan keskööd, trs. Allan Eichenbaum, Varrak, December 2011 (978-9985-3-2427-1)

Finnish: Keskiyö ylläni, trs. Mika Kivimäki, Karisto, August 2011 (978-951-23-5368-2)

French: Je-m’habillerai de nuit, trs. … L’Atalante, 21 April 2011 (978-2-84172-541-0)

German: Das Mitternachtskleid, trs. Regina Rawlinson, Manhattan, 23 May 2011 (978-3-442-54638-1)
Pbk: Goldmann,17 December 2012 (978-3-442-47870-5)

Hebrew: אלבש חצות ליל, trs.   , Kidmat Eden, 2011, (03-5279275)
Winner of the 2011 Geffen Award for the Best Translated Fantasy Book

Polish: W Północ się Odzieję, trs. Piotr W. Choleva, Prószyński i S-ka, ?May 2011 (978-83-7648-709-0)

Russian: Eksmo [not yet published]

Spanish: Me Vestiré de Medianoche, trs. Manu Viciano, Fantascy, 13 September 2013 (978-84-15831-03-7)

Turkish: Geceye bürüneceğim, trs. Niran Elçi, Tudem, February 2012 (978-9944-69-658-6)
To be republished by Delidolu/Tudem in March 2017

 

Background illustration © and by courtesy of Paul Kidby

Reviews

Although he knows how to weave a story, the real fun of Pratchett’s books is the line-by-line inventiveness: the jokes, aphorisms, insights. The book brings back the young witch Tiffany Aching, now 16 and much in demand helping the sick, the poor and the old, using her special power to alleviate pain. As she exhausts herself doing good, a new wave of suspicion about witches spreads, stirred up by an eyeless monster whose power is ‘rumour and lies’. Tiffany, aided in her tasks by the hilarious, belligerent, little, kilted Feegles, also confronts issues of the heart, as her friend Roland, the baron’s son, is about to marry a frilly girl who is not all she seems.
As Tiffany tackles domestic drudgery and the monstrous villain, Pratchett brings us reflections on the role of women, the dangers of religion and the follies of society. And, writing at the height of his powers, he makes us laugh a lot.
Nicolette Jones in The Sunday Times

I Shall wear Midnight is the fourth book to feature the delightful and resourceful Tiffany Aching. In the first she was a child discovering her own witching nature and the Wee Free Men of the title made for a brilliant book for upper primary/lower secondary readers and more. Unlike the conventions of so many series Tiffany has grown, she is now 16 and this tale is very much for her contemporaries in age and ever upwards… However, it is, once again, a wholly charming and beguiling read as put upon Tiffany faces an ancient threat awaking all the damages and dangers of mass hysteria. The book, and this side-brook strand of Pratchett’s writing which now joins the Disworld flow, is a joy; an astonishingly vivid and brilliantly witty creation with breathtakingly dovetailed plotting.
Chris Brown in The School Librarian

Okay, I’ll try to write a real review instead of just jumping up and down screeching, “I got an ARC of the new Terry Pratchett book!” Or rather, now that I’ve done that and breathed into a paper bag and all, I think I can be mature enough to share some actual thoughts with you. (Warning: Largely thematic spoilers ahead!)
    I do hope you’ve already read the first three books about young witch Tiffany Aching: The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith. You’ll enjoy this one a lot more if you have. For one thing, you’ll already be familiar with Tiffany’s sidekicks, the Nac Mac Feegle, those miniscule blue guys in kilts who are endlessly spoiling for a fight, preferably combined with a drink. Of course, they’re determined to look after Tiffany while they’re at it.
    Tiffany is now officially the witch of the chalk country, and she thinks she understands what that means. She takes her work very seriously, so much so that she sometimes misses certain cues. Because people don’t always react the way you think they should, and it doesn’t help that there’s an evil semi-supernatural entity going around playing on people’s fear of witches.
    So yeah, trouble is brewing, and things only get worse when the baron dies. Tiffany travels to the great, dirty city of Ankh Morpork to find the baron’s heir, Roland, with whom Tiffany once had something resembling a romance. The Nac Mac Feegle come along and create havoc, which is just what they’re supposed to do. Tiffany and crew also run into some of Pratchett’s best Ankh Morpork characters from his other Discworld books. One of them even finds himself bonding with those little blue men!
    While in the city, Tiffany compares notes with the proprietor of a famous shop that sells witch supplies as well as with an even more mysterious mentor before she sets off for home, having delivered her message to the baron’s son. But everyone is acting funny, and Tiffany winds up in Roland’s dungeon with the goats. Of course, she doesn’t stay there for long—she meddles with the best of them, and soon she is hunting the creature that’s spreading the hatred of witches. The older witches offer to help her, but Tiffany turns them down. She knows she needs to prove herself.
    Compared to Pratchett’s other books, this one has a bit of a slow start, but then, Pratchett’s worst is still head and shoulders above most writers’ best. Although the man is known for his humor, I’m in awe of his ability to create characters that matter, and to talk about the human condition by telling amazing stories.
    One way of looking at all four books is as an account of Tiffany’s coming-of-age. But we sometimes see simple stories along those lines, and Tiffany’s is complicated. For instance, I Shall Wear Midnight has thought-provoking things to say about romance, even though at first glance, this may seem like a minor theme.
    Tiffany clearly had a relationship with Roland for a while, and everyone knows it. What’s more, they comment on it. A lot. Which gets on Tiffany’s nerves, although at first we’re not sure why. Even Roland’s fiancé knows it, and in fact, her jealousy leads her to cause major difficulties for Tiffany without realizing the full impact of what she’s done. (Note the irony of the things Roland thinks he’s avoiding with Tiffany compared to what he doesn’t understand about his own fiancé. Brilliant!)
    Tiffany has no illusions that it would have worked out with Roland, and yet—she feels left out. She wonders if she’ll be alone forever. Though she never actually says so, I get the feeling she’s wondering if she’ll wind up like her formidable mentor, Granny Weatherwax. Does being a great witch mean you have to be alone your entire life?
    From a young reader’s standpoint, Tiffany brings up a valuable question, which is, “I’m not like the others. Will anyone ever understand and care about me in a normal way, when I’m not normal?” We can easily see why Tiffany feels different, but then, don’t most of us feel that way at least some of the time? Certainly the kind of bright, creative kids who are probably reading these books might share Tiffany’s worries.
    It may seem facile that Pratchett provides an answer to this question in the form of a quirky young guardsman named Preston (who would really rather be a doctor), but then, for a girl like Tiffany, meeting the right kind of person necessarily feels like a surprising whim and a kindness on the part of the universe.
Even so, Tiffany is alone, and always will be. All of us are, even when we’re with the people we love and who love us. So Pratchett’s answer to Tiffany’s question is both yes, and no.

    Mind you, Tiffany Aching is never a damsel in distress. She helps herself (ever-so-literally), and her efforts pay off. She also catches on to the fact that there’s more to being a good witch than hard work, admirable though that may be. You have to pay attention to people, to what each of them wants and needs and feels. When you do, you might be knocked sideways at times, but you will be far more capable of helping those you want to help. People like Tiffany and Granny Weatherwax make a difference, although it isn’t easy. But as Pratchett points out, it doesn’t have to be. It simply has to atter.    Book Aunt’s blog

Ask Tiffany Aching, and she’ll tell you: It’s not easy being a witch, especially when you’re only almost 16 years old.
It can’t be easy being Terry Pratchett, either, an author known foremost, perhaps, for his screamingly funny Discworld novels, of which this is the latest. Beneath everything he writes, however, even as he has readers howling helplessly with laughter, is a fierce, palpable love for his fellow human beings, however flawed they may be. A love that causes Tiffany over and over to square her shoulders beneath her pointy black hat and do what’s needful.
He throws a lot at Tiffany, who crashed spectacularly into her calling when she armed herself with a skillet and, at the age of nine, ventured into Faerieland (which is not nearly as nice as it sounds) to steal her brother back from its Queen (The Wee Free Men, 2003). Here he challenges her with the Cunning Man, a centuries-old disembodied hatred that seeks ignorance and uses it—“Poison goes where poison’s welcome”—against witches.
Themes of memory and forgetting run throughout this tale. Books preserve all memories, even the ones better consigned to oblivion. The Cunning Man is resurrected when Letitia, Tiffany’s erstwhile swain Roland’s fiancée (Pratchett confronts her with this betrayal, too) summons him inadvertently when trying to work a spell against Tiffany. But one of the Cunning Man’s MOs is wanton book burning, a calculated obliteration of memories.
Witches, arguably, embody the accumulated wisdom of their craft, while the Cunning Man is a collective memory of evil. He operates by playing on fear and causing the common folk to forget what their witches have done for them. Tiffany must remember everything she’s gleaned from all the witches who have trained her to defeat him, and the key is a childhood memory the old Baron shares with her on his deathbed.
It’s not all heavy stuff. Pratchett leavens Tiffany’s passage into adulthood with generous portions of assistance from the Nac Mac Feegle, the six-inch-high blue men whose love of boozin’, fightin’ and stealin’ is subordinate only to their devotion to Tiffany, their Hag o’ the Hills. When they utterly destroy the King’s Head while on an errand for Tiffany, they rebuild the pub—back-to-front, rendering it the King’s…oh, crivens, never mind.
And even as he demands more and more of Tiffany—her beau engaged elsewhere, her old Baron gone, the people of the Chalk turned against her—he gives her an army of friends and someone who loves words as much as she does, someone who, like Tiffany and, one suspects, the author himself, knows that ‘forgiveness’ sounds ‘like a silk handkerchief gently falling down’.
A passionately wise, spectacularly hilarious and surpassingly humane outing from a master.
*Kirkus Reviews. [A star is assigned to books of unusual merit, determined by the editors of Kirkus Reviews.]

2010 Best for Teens: I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett
Young witch Tiffany Aching took on the Queen of the Fairies with a cast-iron skillet, defeated the mind-controlling hiver with sheer force of will and escaped the frozen embrace of the Wintersmith, but can she handle the centuries-old Cunning Man, a sort of disembodied hatred that seeks to destroy all witches? Tiffany’s fans know there’s nothing easy about witchcraft. What may even be harder, though, is the knowledge that this is the last Tiffany Aching book; she’s 16, after all, and putting away childish things. Tiffany’s creator, the brilliant Terry Pratchett, holds out a bit of hope for them. “Tiffany has grown up in this series and is now herself entering adulthood,” says the author. “It was quite an engrossing task to write the last book of a children’s series and meld it into an adult book. Have we seen the last of Tiffany? Possibly. On the other hand, if she does turn up, it will probably be an in adult Discworld book. On the whole, I doubt if this matters because I suspect that part of my success is that children read my ‘adult books’ and adults read my ‘children’s books.’ Fantasy, after all, is uni-age, and long may it survive.” Amen to that—or, as Tiffany’s friends the Feegles would say, “Crivens!”                   Vicky Smith, Kirkus Reviews

*Gr 7 Up–This is the final adventure of the young witch, Tiffany Aching, and her obnoxious, fawning, and yet lovable small blue companions, the Nac Mac Feegles. In many ways it’s a coming-of-age novel, as Tiffany is now on her own. Known as “The Hag O’the Hills,” she spends her time tending to the messy, menial, everyday things that no one else will take care of, such as fixing bones or easing the pain of a dying man. But as she tries to serve the people of the Chalk hills, she senses a growing distrust of her, and a loss of respect for witches in general. Along with the Nac Mac Feegles, she has to seek out the source of this growing fear. Tiffany discovers she may have been responsible for waking an evil force when she kissed the winter in Wintersmith (HarperTempest, 2006). The Cunning Man is in need of a host body and is searching for Tiffany. Pratchett combines gut-busting humor and amusing footnotes with a genuine poignancy as Tiffany tries to decide what her future should be. Fans of the author’s “Discworld” (HarperCollins) books will enjoy the connections with the larger series, particularly the inclusion of Granny Weatherwax. Simply put, this fourth and final book in the series is an undisputed triumph.     Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO, in School Library Journal

Pratchett’s fourth—and final—book to feature young witch Tiffany Aching (The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith) is a delight from start to finish. The trademark Pratchett humor is in full force along with the classic elements of a witch, a royal wedding, a royal funeral, a trip to the big city, and an ominous villain. Comic relief comes in the form of frequent appearance by the Nac Mac Feegle (who would not be out of place in a farcical mini-production of Braveheart) and everyone’s favorite randy old hag, Nanny Ogg. A character from early in the “Discworld” series makes a cameo appearance, and we meet a new character, the learned young man Preston. As usual, Pratchett makes wise and wry observations about human behavior, for example, “poison goes where poison’s welcome” refers to the mob mentality.
Verdict YA and adult readers who like strong heroines and classic tales will enjoy this volume, which is sure to be in demand by Discworld fans. Amy Watts, Univ. of Georgia Lib., Athens, in Library Journal

Pratchett’s characteristic high-quality mix of intelligence, comic inventiveness, humor, and incisive moral seriousness suffuses this fourth (and apparently final, alas) Tiffany Aching adventure, making it one of the most entertaining and literarily rich fantasies for young adults available. Tiffany, now an established witch of the Chalk, must conquer the “cunning man,” a “horrible creature who can take over somebody else completely”-especially someone open to evil. “Poison goes where poison’s welcome,” Tiffany realizes, as the cunning man inhabits various nasty people. This maxim about contagious human viciousness is only one of many underpinnings to Pratchett’s dramatic and always amusing tale, in which even the smallest of elements displays critical (but mostly affectionate) insight into human character-from the ebullient Nac Mac Feegles hanging off Tiffany’s broomstick, their kilts flapping in the wind, to the uncomfortable remnants of an outgrown adolescent romance, such as that of Tiffany and Roland, the new Baron. Mr. William Glottal Carpetlayer; Deirdre Parsley, the nasty Duchess-mother-in-law-to-be and former music hall dancer; Preston, the erudite, solicitous, utterly awkward trainee-guard-every character contributes not just color and comedy to the mix but ideas as well. The story is stuffed with concepts that challenge and oxygenate the brain-elasticated string theory and the original meaning of the word buxom among them. Funny, thought-provoking, and completely engaging from first to last.
Deirdre F. Baker in Horn Book

 R* Gr. 8-10 In this final episode featuring Tiffany Aching, now a full witch, and her constant companions, the boisterous and irrepressible Mac Nac Feegles, our intrepid heroine continues to have a bit too much for one (admittedly brilliant and able) girl to handle. Now sixteen, Tiffany spends her days performing the duties expected of the area witch, from visiting old women and removing their pain, to handling a dicey situation involving a beaten child, to saving all of the locals’ mostly ungrateful selves on a regular basis. The recent witch animosity isn’t entirely the residents’ fault, however, as an evil spirit, obsessed for centuries with witch hunting, has found an in through the quiet insecurities and jealousies of ordinary folk and has tainted their views. Though Tiffany has plenty of witch allies from earlier adventures who would help, this is her problem, and she handles it with the exact mix of aplomb, bravado, and reluctant admissions of gaps in her skill that she’s used in approaching danger before. The Feegles, still able to handle battle and liquor better than any full-sized man, are a bit less present than in the earlier volumes, but their long-standing relationship with Tiffany is richer than ever. Tiffany herself is deeply engaging as she often stumbles through new situations with a keen sense of justice but the relatively sparse tools of an inexperienced young witch. At once touchingly poignant and uproariously hilarious, this novel is a splendid goodbye to a batch of characters who will be missed by readers who still must admit that, with this fourth volume, their stories have been well and thoroughly told.
AS in the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

5Q [highest quality] *
At eight years old, she whacked the Queen of Faerie with a frying pan and saved a future Baron. At eleven, she defeated the mind-destroying Hiver. At thirteen, she had to fend off the advances of the Wintersmith (an eldritch god-sort-of-spirity thing) and save the world (again). Now at very nearly sixteen, Tiffany Aching is considered the witch of the Chalk region, and she has the no-time-for-sleep schedule to prove it. But that’s what being a witch IS: taking care of the people in your steading, all the rest is press-on warts and cackle-boxes. Tiffany is confused when those people start turning on her, and rumors, innuendo, and lies are accepted as truth. The Cunning Man, what’s left of the evil spirit of an ancient witchfinder, has been awakened; and he’s coming for Tiffany. As if that were not problem enough, the old Baron is dying and the baron-to-be (who all assumed would marry Tiffany) has a soppy fiancée…and a monstrous mother-in-law-to-be. Though the Nac Mac Feegles (Tiffany’s small, blue, brogue-spewing protectors) mean to be helpful, they often just add to the chaos (often through bloodletting).
Pratchett rounds off the Tiffany Aching adventures with what is likely the final volume (she is an adult now); though fans may be sad at that, there’s nary a one who will be disappointed with this thrilling, humorous, moving and most wise tale that examines religious intolerance, memory, and loss without ever straying from Pratchett’s trademark witty wordplay.   Voya

Defying his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Terry Pratchett remains the grand master of inspired silliness, girl power, and semantic swordplay. His latest Discworld fantasy for teens is sheer, even deep, magic – no matter how old you are.
Parade Magazine, ‘Parade Pick’

When HarperCollins asked me to write something about I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT for their blog several months ago I wholeheartedly agreed, but as the publication date approached and passed, I still hadn’t turned something in.  I found myself constantly putting it off, not just the actual writing, but even thinking about it.  But I’ve procrastinated now as long as I possibly can and I have to face the facts: This is our final rendezvous with Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men, but I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet.
There are very few writers who possess a keen understanding of their world, and very few of those who have the wit and the wisdom to reveal it in such a fashion that it will not only entertain the masses, but also engage their intellectual capacities.  Such writers come along rarely, perhaps once in a generation, but their talent is so prodigious and their output so prolific that they are unmistakable.  Terry Pratchett is clearly cut from this cloth, a storyteller of the highest rank who is always searching for what it means to be human.  So as I read the last page in I Shall Wear Midnight, feeling both slightly melancholy but yet wholly satisfied, I think I hear something . . . some sniffling, some snickering, some bickering . . . The Nac Mac Feegle!  Oh, Crivens!   Jonathan Hunt in www.thepageturn.com

At eight years old, she whacked the Queen of Faerie with a frying pan and saved a future Baron. At eleven, she defeated the mind-destroying Hiver. At thirteen, she had to fend off the advances of the Wintersmith (an eldritch god-sort-of-spirity thing) and save the world (again). Now at very nearly sixteen, Tiffany Aching is considered the witch of the Chalk region, and she has the no-time-for-sleep schedule to prove it. But that’s what being a witch IS: taking care of the people in your steading, all the rest is press-on warts and cackle-boxes. Tiffany is confused when those people start turning on her, and rumors, innuendo, and lies are accepted as truth. The Cunning Man, what’s left of the evil spirit of an ancient witchfinder, has been awakened; and he’s coming for Tiffany. As if that were not problem enough, the old Baron is dying and the baron-to-be (who all assumed would marry Tiffany) has a soppy fiancée…and a monstrous mother-in-law-to-be. Though the Nac Mac Feegles (Tiffany’s small, blue, brogue-spewing protectors) mean to be helpful, they often just add to the chaos (often through bloodletting).
Pratchett rounds off the Tiffany Aching adventures with what is likely the final volume (she is an adult now); though fans may be sad at that, there’s nary a one who will be disappointed with this thrilling, humorous, moving and most wise tale that examines religious intolerance, memory, and loss without ever straying from Pratchett’s trademark witty wordplay.    5Q   Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle

The final adventure in Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series brings this subset of Discworld novels to a moving and highly satisfactory conclusion. Tiffany, now nearly 16 years old, is forced to do battle with the hate-filled ghost of a long dead witchfinder, the Cunning Man, who has become obsessed with the young witch and is gradually turning her own community against her. As ever, Tiffany is ably supported by her loyal, intensely fractious, and totally amoral companions, the Nac Mac Feegles, whose leader, Rob Anybody, believes, “After all, ye ken, what would be the point of lyin’ when you had nae done anything wrong?” She must deal with the heavy workload of a professional witch (birthing babies, training apprentices, and the like), fight evil, and come to terms with her former boyfriend’s impending marriage. Pratchett’s trademark wordplay and humor are much in evidence, but he’s also interested in weightier topics, including religious prejudice and the importance of living a balanced life. Tiffany Aching fans, who have been waiting for this novel since Wintersmith (2006), should be ecstatic. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)     Publisher’s Weekly

Is it possible for the end of something to be both genuinely sad and yet utterly satisfactory? Sobered but satisfied might describe the legions of Terry Pratchett fans who, with I Shall Wear Midnight, will arrive at the end of his four-volume mini-series featuring the coming of age of apprentice witch Tiffany Aching.
When readers first met Tiffany in The Wee Free Men, she was nine, a country girl in too-big boots, an aspiring cheese maker, unaware of her hidden talents as a witch until she was plucked off the Chalk and whisked away to the mountains to learn the often thankless art of witchcraft.    Here, in her fourth and final adventure, Tiffany is sixteen, ‘a witch alone’, operating free of the control of Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and the other senior witches – but always, of course, looked after (whether she likes it or not) by her fiercest and fondest companions: the tiny blue Nac Mac Feegle, who follow her everywhere and would defend her to the death.
At the opening of I Shall Wear Midnight, Tiffany has discovered that being a witch means bearing all kinds of pain, acknowledging truths that most people ignore, facing difficulties that many never have to view head-on. Tiffany is learning that the life of a witch is hard, painful and often lonely (no matter how many Feegles might follow you), but also necessary to the well-being of her people: “You know how Granny Aching always used to say: ‘Feed them as is hungry, clothe them as is naked, speak up for them as has no voices’? Tiffany says. Well, I reckon there is room in there for ‘Grasp for them as can’t bend, reach for them as can’t stretch, wipe for them as can’t twist,’ don’t you? And because sometimes you get a good day that makes up for all the bad days and, just for a moment, you hear the world turning.”
Tiffany is both passionate and pragmatic about her work as a witch, but doing that work is becoming increasingly difficult, as a malevolent presence seems to be turning folks against witchcraft in general and Tiffany in particular. What’s more, the Baron, the head nobleman in Tiffany’s district, is at death’s door, and his son Roland, Tiffany’s childhood sweetheart, is poised to marry a young woman who couldn’t be less like Tiffany (at least on the surface). Just as she’s about to face her most daunting foe – a task that will require proving herself in front of her teachers and peers – Tiffany feels more alone than ever.
Although the four books featuring Tiffany Aching have been marketed to younger readers, they are part of Pratchett’s expansive and endlessly entertaining Discworld series. I Shall Wear Midnight seems, in many ways, the most closely integrated into the rest of Discworld, as Tiffany journeys to the bustling city of Ankh-Morpork and even receives essential (if cryptic) counsel from one of Pratchett’s earliest heroines. Perhaps Pratchett, as he draws this cycle to a close, is gently nudging his younger readers toward the riches that lie outside the Chalk but within the rest of Discworld.
As one character remarks to young Tiffany near the end of the novel, ‘Classic endings to a romantic story are a wedding or a legacy, and you have been the engineer of one of each.’ Certainly Pratchett, a storyteller for the ages, knows how to craft a fulfilling, classic ending. Those who want to see Tiffany succeed in her chosen craft will cheer her on; those who long for her to find love might be surprised, but not disappointed, at what (or, rather, whom) she finds. Even those pesky, lovable, unforgettable Nac Mac Feegle receive their ultimate reward. So, although readers might at first be cursing ‘Crivens!’ at the thought of never hearing from Tiffany, Rob Anybody, or Daft Wullie again, they can close the book on their adventures with a deep sigh of contentment. ‘All’s right with the (Disc)world’.    Norah Piehl. Teenreads.com

One of my favourite authors is Terry Pratchett. There’s no secret to that if you’ve spent even a little bit of time browsing FBR; he notches ten-out-of-ten books regularly, in my opinion, and has one of the keenest minds and greatest storytelling abilities I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.
Not surprisingly then, Sir Terry Pratchett has done it once again with his latest Discworld novel, I Shall Wear Midnight, the fourth in his Tiffany Aching series, following the trials and tribulations of a girl becoming a witch in a land that doesn’t want a witch.
I wonder whether someone who hasn’t read the previous three Tiffany books would enjoy this as much as someone who has. Much of the Tiffany story, for me at least, comes from having seen her grow up and fill into her role as the first witch of the Chalk. From nine years old Tiffany finds herself time and again having to deal with problems that no ordinary witch need deal with. And each time she does so with such skill and poise that it is no surprise she is being heralded as a very special witch.
    Midnight takes place when Tiffany is not yet sixteen, and having to deal with problems nobody else is willing to deal with. That’s the job of a witch. You do the thing in front of you, and then you do the next thing.
Once again Pratchett writes the mind of a teenage girl perfectly, or so I think, never having been one myself. But considering that Pratchett was never a teenage girl either, you can’t help but assume that he has it right on the money. The lack of knowledge she has about some topics (pink inflatable wossnames) mixes wonderfully with a mass of understanding that even her father fails to grasp. She’s naïve and wise, ignorant and informed, all in one pretty little bundle.
And let’s be honest here. I’ve been in love with Tiffany since the first moment I met her. She is the perfect fantasy character, not stupid but not all knowing. She learns. She understands her limits. She thinks things through and then let’s her second and third thoughts think on the things that she has thought.
Midnight happens quickly. Maybe five days takes place, at best, and Pratchett seems to write ensuring that he gets everything in there in as fast as possible. This makes for some head spinning action and narrative, leaving you wondering where the extra pages went or whether Pratchett’s desk has a larger draft somewhere.
Surprisingly the early third of this book is a little rough, leaving you feeling as if you’ve missed something, or are missing something. I’m not sure that I did, but I will reserve judgement until I’ve read it again.
And I will be reading it again. The book had me in tears by the end, tears of joy at having read such a wonderful story. It was both heart-warming and cheer-worthy, and I couldn’t help but notice my heart beat faster as the story reached its climax and then it’s ending. This is definitely a book – much like many of Pratchett’s books – which will have re-readability for years to come. And I look forward to rereading it as soon as possible.
As for a rating? I can’t. Not yet. Probably 9 out of 10, but maybe a perfect 10. It’s hard to tell right now. And honestly? That’s sort of nice.    Joshua S Hill, in www.fantasybookreview.co.uk

Pratchett returns to the terra firma of his popular, sprawling Discworld series, the young-reader corner of which centers around teen witch Tiffany Aching. Being a good witch mostly means tending to the locals’ minor aches, pains, and kerfuffles—which she does with as much aplomb as anyone could be expected to muster—but to become a great witch, she’ll have to contend with the malevolent ghost of an ancient witch-burner. But even that might not be nearly as terrifying as trying to keep the peace between the humans and the wee Nac Mac Feegles (whose primary skills are drinking, brawling, having Scottish brogues, brawling a bit more, and stealing every scene they’re in) and, shudder, getting wrapped up in the wedding of her childhood friend, who is suddenly a very myopic baron. The action never picks up much more momentum than a determined amble, but readers won’t care a whit because in terms of pure humor per square word, Pratchett may be the cheeriest writer around. Now that Tiffany Aching’s adventures are concluded, readers can venture into the nearly three decade’s worth of other Discworld books.  Ian Chipman in Booklist

Terry Pratchett: Out of this world
There is no denying that Terry Pratchett (that’s Sir Terence to the Queen) is as prolific as writers come. I Shall Wear Midnight is his 39th book set in Discworld — and if you don’t know what that is then you’ve presumably been living in a bunker.
In this book, Pratchett continues the adventures of young witch Tiffany Aching as she tries to settle into her role of hag o’ the hills in the Chalk, a place that hasn’t necessarily decided it wants her around. While she does this, she is made aware that a strange force of evil has been released and is headed straight for her.
Tiffany is a character who has evolved. Having seen some ugly things in her life as a young witch, she has grown to be strong, sensible and clever, but not precocious – never precocious! She has used her experiences to help her in her role as the hag o’ the hills. With Tiffany now a teenager, Pratchett is open to the possibility of love for her — but that does not mean that there is sex in this story, because Terry Pratchett has never needed sex to sell his books. Humour and a biting wit always suffice. There is, however, death involved, which may surprise those who are looking for a sweet and safe little young adult novel. Says Pratchett, “I think that our job is to turn children into adults, not encourage children to remain children.”
Pratchett’s young adult novels often deal with more serious ideas than the main Discworld novels — in this fourth installment of Tiffany’s adventures the themes and motifs aren’t for the faint of heart. There is much darkness in I Shall Wear Midnight: horrific domestic violence, the death of an unborn child, vicious witch hunts, and a strange eye-less specter called the Cunning Man who is easily one of Pratchett’s more frightening villains.
The Cunning Man’s evil shadow lingers throughout the book, adding to the already dark elements that Pratchett has brought into Tiffany’s life. Eventually though, he is dealt with rather quickly, almost in a rushed manner. But this is nitpicking because it is not the plot that is the star here — although there is certainly nothing wrong with the plot! Pratchett’s characters steal the scene, with their little intrigues and complications, their dialogue and comedy that shine through everything else.
How does Pratchett manage to write so ridiculously well, continue to be so incredibly smart and funny and remain true to his own voice and style while managing to bring to life a multitude of characters? He is incredibly good at bringing to life different voices and manages the voice of a teenage girl so convincingly that there is never a moment of doubt in Tiffany’s narrative. Of course, she is no ordinary teenage girl — as nothing is ever ordinary in Pratchett’s fantastic worlds.
One must also admire Pratchett’s ability to juggle a multitude of characters who connect through many of his books. Here, Tiffany travels to the city of Ankh Morpork and meets a number of characters from other Discworld novels — character that younger readers who have only read Pratchett’s young adult work may not know of, but for those who are aware of the extent of Discworld, this all ties up organically.
I Shall Wear Midnight has it all — lots of great action and all the right thrills and chills. Magic, mystery and mayhem abound on every page and the finale is heart-warming and open to endless possibilities.
Mahvesh Murad in The Express Tribune with the International Herald Tribune, Sunday Magazine

There’s a moment of sadness with every new Terry Pratchett novel. Since the English comedy-fantasy author’s 2007 announcement that he has Alzheimer’s disease, he’s admitted that each book may be his last. He’s undoubtedly bringing one part of his legacy to a bittersweet conclusion with the final tale of Tiffany Aching, the young witch on the mystical planet called Discworld. Across the first three books in the sequence of young adult novels (The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith), Tiffany went from callow apprentice to respected hag o’ the hills. Aided and occasionally hindered by the wild and raucous Nac Mac Feegle clan (half-pixie, half-Pictish warriors, all comic relief), Tiffany is the voice of common sense in the earthy farming community of the Chalk. Pratchett is never one to blanch at the grimmer realities of life, and he uses his impish humor to leaven a tale of all too familiar social woes like teen pregnancy and mob violence. Normally, that’s nothing a young witch like Tiffany can’t deal with, but when one family argument turns violent, the conflict creates enough space to let a dark force called the Cunning Man inject himself into the world with deadly intent. It’s a rich narrative broth here, and it helps that no fantasy novelist is better at world-building than Pratchett. But forget sorting hats and pet dragons: It’s all about headology, the Discworld term for psychology. That’s the real power of witches, getting people to do what they want without using spells. Magic is dangerous, unpredictable stuff, and a sensible, young witch like Miss Aching knows the best way to deal with elves and sorcerers and the like is an iron frying pan to the face. But what to hit when your enemy has no face? The Cunning Man is a classic Pratchett villain, less an entity and more a force of raw, blind emotion. The battle in this morality tale isn’t wands vs. broomsticks but fear vs. smarts, and that’s pure Pratchett country. He chronicles Tiffany’s final battle and her passage into womanhood with a seasoned pen that, even after nearly 50 novels, is still fresh and joyous. When it comes to headology, he’s still the chief wizard.
Richard Whitaker in Austin Chronicle

The first lines in I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett are: “Why is it, Tiffany Aching wondered, that people liked noise so much? Why was noise so important?”
The last line is: “And Tiffany said, ‘Listen.'”
Between those two lines is a story full of sound and fury and laugh-out-loud moments, in true Terry Pratchett fashion.
The fourth and final book in the Tiffany Aching series is darker than the others, as Tiffany takes a step into adulthood by beginning work as a witch in her homeland. This mostly involves whizzing around on a broomstick to help in births, set bones, lay out the dead and clip the toenails of the elderly. It is not a glamorous job, but someone needs to do it, and Tiffany is bossy, a hard worker, and sometimes too smart for her own good.
Tiffany is not your typical fantasy heroine, but then this is not your typical fantasy series. There is magic, but witches prefer to use thinking, pride and a pair of well-used boots. There are faeries, but the Wee Free Men are described as “a bunch of thieving drunken reprobates and scofflaws with no respect for the law whatsoever!” And that is what they call their good points.
There is also an ultimate evil, but it is not a dark wizard/flaming eyeball. It is more complicated than that, which is a big theme of the book.
As a witch, Tiffany stands at the edges, where good and evil blur. But those ambiguous edges are also where humanity and redemption can be found.
There is something foul growing in Tiffany’s world, something that is stalking her and causing people to turn on each other without mercy. If she cannot defeat it, she will be left to a failure worse than death.
Tiffany is supported by a strong cast of characters, from the Wee Free Men to Eskarina Smith, who finally makes an appearance after disappearing from the Terry Prachett oeuvre more than 20 years ago. In the end, though, it is up to Tiffany to help herself and send the monstrous hate out of her world once again.
This is another way that Tiffany Aching is not like the average hero: She is not the chosen one. There are no prophecies or grand fates. She is a cheesemaker who decided to take on the responsibility of doing what needs to be done. Her power does not come from sex or violence, but from knowing who she is and what ground she stands on.
She is told, “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 misery.” Over the course of four books, Tiffany works to find her place and her gift, and once she does, it may not solve all her problems, but it gives her the strength to deal with what comes her way.
Part of the pleasure of reading a Terry Pratchett novel is the way he opens up our world through a fantasy world. It is not that he tells a reader anything new – he writes truths that you already know, but have never been able to articulate.
However, as the author’s Alzheimer’s sets in, after 36 Discworld novels the finish is in sight. Even in I Shall Wear Midnight, there is a sense that things are wrapping up and loose threads are being wound in. The end of the book is a little soppy, but it is a well-deserved soppiness.
Tiffany’s journey to adulthood ends, but from then on every step is a first step. Life is about learning, and both young adults and old adults can learn something from this series. If anything, it is how words shape the world, both spoken and unspoken, as long as you stop to really listen.   Anne J. Kelley, in Battle Creek Enquirer

Another outing for Tiffany Aching, the Witch of the Chalk, who we first met as a nine-year-old in The Wee Free Men, this book for younger Pratchett readers is a typically accomplished piece of work from the master of fantasy. Tiffany is a working witch in her village, but there is trouble brewing. The Cunning Man has awakened and his mission is to turn people against witches. Tiffany must fight her foe and save her kind in what feels like a modern day retelling of the Salem witch trials.
There’s plenty of Pratchett’s trademark humour to enjoy, but this is a weighty tome for teenage readers to get their teeth into. Fantastic fantasy and laugh-out-loud humour make this a real treat.  Stacia Briggs in Norwich Evening News

Terry Pratchett’s final young adult novel, starring teen witch Tiffany Aching, is intended as a bridge to his main Discworld series and, like many of his more recent books, it is not without its darker moments.
Tiffany is a trainee witch who ends up dealing with some pretty grim situations, like the aftermath of child abuse and wife-beating in the community. Pratchett’s book is suffused with an awareness of the thankless exhaustion awaiting people in the caring professions.
Most Discworld witches spend more time as a district nurse, social worker or vet than turning anyone into a toad – and Tiffany is no exception.
As the well-paced plot unravels in Pratchett’s inimitable style, it goes without saying that everything gets very funny. Like Tiffany, Pratchett has always known that ‘laughter helps things slide into the thinking’.
Alex Sarll in Bradford Telegraph & Argus, and shorter versions elsewhere including Leader (Wrexham), Leader (Chester), and Bristol Evening Post

There’s a dark presence in [the] Chalk, one that is turning good, honest folk against family, neighbour and witch. Soon a quiet life of clipping toenails for the inform is far behind Tiffany Aching and she is forced to fight an evil presence. With the help of old and new friends, she must once again prove she is a mighty fine witch and conquer the Cunning Man, or else it might not just be the canary that stops singing. . .
This is a wonderful finale to Tiffany’s Discworld-set series, giving you enough to satisfy but not too much that you don’t want pudding.   Nicola Golding, Waterstone’s Bluewater, in Waterstones.com

Background illustration © and by courtesy of Paul Kidby