The problem with witches is that most people remember the magic and not the everyday and mundane duties that they perform. Tiffany Arching is just such a witch; she is the witch of the Chalk. She is present for all the births and the deaths; she takes care of hurts and makes people feel better. She is paid in whatever her patients have handy, usually old sheets or old boots, but either way it comes in handy.
Something is happening, and people are beginning talk, and grumble, and point. It does not take much for people to turn on their witch. There is something evil in the wind; it comes with a stench that precedes his coming, and an ancient curse that he means to level at Tiffany. He is known as the cunning man and has been defeated many times, keeping him from destroying all witches. She does not quite understand the danger, and has other pressing things on her mind.
The real evil begins when a young woman is beaten by her father, causing her to lose the child that had been conceived. Tiffany must take her to the wee folk for the healing of forgetfulness. When she is accused of killing the old Baron and stealing his money, she is arrested and she finds that her friends are not acting as they should. There is something happening, that same evil is being perpetrated upon her friend’s memories of things past. And as the whispering continues, Tiffany finds that she must face the evil and win, for if the evil can inhabit her body, as is his plan, then he will be able to destroy all the witches. She has awakened this foul creature and is now responsible to send him back to that place from where he came.
As her problems continue and she looks for solutions she sees the mark of this evil in every city and place she goes. Will she save herself and the witches from this darkness that is hunting and haunting her? Will the Chalk and her friends return to normal?
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett is one of the books in his best selling Disc World series. These books are ingenious and well received by both young and adult readers. In I Shall Wear Midnight, Pratchett has developed a story with a chilling darkness, and a wonderfully spooky character as the cunning man. Tiffany is growing up and finds that all is not what it seems, the new Baron, her childhood friend is not the man for her, and she is dealing with a harsher world then the one she is used too. She will have to rely on omens and portents, as well as learn to really trust her friends to put the evil in its place. And in return her friends will have to have faith in her abilities as they too are drug into her dealings with this new evil.
And while there is a darkness, it is well balanced with a fun and frivolous group of characters, keeping the story fun and yet dangerous. There are her wee friends the Nac Mac Feegles, boisterous and dangerous as ever, never in doubt about their witch, ready at all times to defend her. They are quite querulous and noisy, and have a tendency to follow her everywhere. They add to both the danger and the hilarity of the story, sometimes keeping you chuckling at their antics.
I would recommend this book to all those who love the Disc World series, with the understanding that this is a bit darker and more grown up read. It is a charming book with gregarious characters that draw you in. The cunning man is a well developed and sinister shadow, and as nasty as can be. This would be a great addition to anyone’s library. These books are sure to be classics.