The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. Kate booklogged this a few weeks ago, which should serve as ample proof that I don't drop everything for a new Pratchett... Actually, I was busy when it first arrived, and then it got put on a shelf in Kate's office, where I only rarely venture, and I completely forgot that it was there...
This book bears some superficial similarity to Neil Gaiman's Coraline, in that they're both YA books about young girls who turn back an incursion by an evil fairy Queen. The similarities pretty much end there, though, as Coraline's only ally is a slightly enigmatic cat, while Tiffany, Pratchett's protagonist, has the backing of an entire army. Granted, they're six inches tall, but they're not a force to be trifled with:
The Nac Mac Feegle liked clear goals. Hundreds of swords and battleaxes, and one bunch of battered flowers in the case of Daft Wullie, were thrust into the air, and the war cry of the Nac Mac Feegle echoed around the chamber. The period of time it takes a pictsie to go from normal to mad fighting mood is so tiny, it can't be measured on the smallest clock.
Unfortunately, since the pictsies were very individualistic, each one had his own cry and Tiffany could only make out a few over the din:
"They can tak' oour lives, but they canna tak' oour troousers!"
"Ye'll tak' the high road an' I'll tak' yer wallet!"
"There can only be one t'ousand!"
"Ach, stick it up yer trakkens!"
But the voices gradually came together in one roar that shook the walls:
"Nae King! Nae Quin! Nae laird! Nae master! We willna be fooled again!"
Between Tiffany's relentlessly sensible way of looking at the world, and the fighting zeal of the wee Free Men, the armies of Elfland never stand a chance.
Well, OK, that's not entirely true-- the evil Queen does put up a good fight, and Tiffany has to dig deep to find the strength to beat her. Which brings up the other obvious comparison, to Lords and Ladies (possibly my favorite Discworld book, which is odd, since I don't usually care for the Witch books). Tiffany is very much a Granny Weatherwax in waiting, and some of the lessons she learns in the course of this book are the same ones Granny learned in Lords and Ladies.
Anyway, this is a good, fast read, which I polished off in the course of an afternoon spent lounging in the sun and recovering from my college reunion weekend. It doesn't quite stack up to the best of the Discworld series, but it stands on its own very well, and would serve as an excellent introduction to Pratchett for people who might be put off by the thought of picking up a novel from a series that's almost thirty books long.
(Origianlly posted to The Library of Babel.)