Graham Tapper's Reviews > I Shall Wear Midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
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's review
Aug 06, 2011

Though set in the Disc world, this is not a Discworld novel. It's the fourth in the Tiffany Aching series of stories, about the young witch. As such it is classified as a "children's book" but then it is as much a children's book as those of Roald Dahl, J K Rowling or Eoin Colfer. Let's just say, it's a book with a child as the major character but which could equally be read by someone aged 9 as 90.

I have read all of the previous stories and loved them as much as I have loved every book Pratchett has ever written. But this one stands out. It is probably the best book Pratchett has ever written, and when you consider the bibliography he has to his name, that is saying something. Probably the only other it's equal is "The Truth". Both books are quite clearly written from the heart, but "I Shall Wear Midnight" may ultimately be his supreme masterpiece.

It is when Pratchett is writing about things that are very close to his heart that he is at his best. In the latest Tiffany Aching story, the young witch has to deal with hatred and prejudice against witches in general and herself in particular, generated by a malevolent spirit who seizes upon the fears of weak and malleable minds to turn them against those such as Tiffany who have done nothing to deserve such animosity.

Of course, parallels can be drawn with our own world in which we see similar conflicts: Northern Ireland and the Middle Eastern conflicts, all driven by totally irrational hatreds, come readily to mind. Pratchett's talent is to place these turmoils in the context of another world, where we can sympathise with the victim who, were the events being played out in our own world, we might ally ourselves in a different way.

As ever, Pratchett's use of language is masterful. He is the Dickens for our era. His characters are vivid. The plot is little short of perfect. I cannot wait for the next instalment.

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