Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
Published: Doubleday, 2006
Series: Discworld, 3rd Tiffany Aching Novel
Awards Won: Locus YA Award
“When the Spirit of Winter takes a fancy to Tiffany Aching, he wants her to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. Forever. It will take the young witch's skill and cunning, as well as help from the legendary Granny Weatherwax and the irrepressible Wee Free Men, to survive until Spring. Because if Tiffany doesn't make it to Spring...
...Spring won't come.” ~WWEnd.com
Wintersmith continues the story of the young witch Tiffany Aching, who is now around 13 years old. I read this as a part of a read-along, and my spoiler-filled posts can be found here, here and here for those interested. While this novel does cover a complete story on its own, I think it would be best read after the first two books of the Tiffany Aching series (The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky).
Wintersmith follows Tiffany into the period of her life where she’s just starting to get an inkling about romance. Thus, the beginnings of understanding romance are a large part of the central story of Wintersmith. Not only is Tiffany trying to puzzle out her feelings for her close male friend, Roland, she also gets herself into romantic troubles of the supernatural variety. After trespassing into a seasonal dance, Tiffany catches the eye of the Wintersmith, the elemental force of winter. I thought it was pretty neat to see the different approaches Tiffany and the Wintersmith took to romance. Tiffany is slowly coming to a natural understanding of how these things work, while the Wintersmith is trying his best to force himself to understand, even though he is a force of nature and not a human at all. As one might expect, that can’t go well on the Wintersmith’s side.
In addition to the central story of Tiffany and the Wintersmith, many characters from previous Tiffany Aching novels make an appearance, and there are a multitude of humorous and entertaining subplots. One of the most memorable was the story of Annagramma, Tiffany’s overbearing witch friend. It kind of continues the discussion of reputation and substance that was started in A Hat Full of Sky, while also including consideration of social responsibility. Another interesting subplot focused on Roland, who was struggling to solve his own family problems, without relying on Tiffany for help. With other appearances by popular characters such as the Wee Free Men, Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax, and Death, as well as the addition of additional side characters, there’s plenty to fill in around the basic story of Tiffany and the Wintersmith.
As usual, Pratchett’s writing balances light humor with darker or more poignant topics. For instance, messing with the seasons is quite a serious problem, and we see that Summer, as well as Winter, can be deadly when not balanced properly. At the same time, Tiffany’s meddling causes a lot of silly problems as well, such as the appearance of a cornucopia that can pop out endless live chickens, among other things. The Wintersmith’s quest to become human was often pleasantly ridiculous, but he was capable of inflicting incredible damage on the world through his lack of understanding. I enjoy Pratchett’s sense of humor, and I especially enjoy how it offsets the more serious moments. Wintersmith is yet another addition to this YA series that is a pleasure to read.
My Rating: 4/5
Wintersmith is a solid addition to the Tiffany Aching series. Tiffany is starting to grow up at this point, and she’s just starting to think about romance. While Tiffany’s muddling through her feelings about the Wintersmith (and her friend Roland), plenty of old characters show up to take part in many entertaining subplots. While there are serious bits, the story has plenty of Pratchett’s trademark style of humor as well. All in all, I’m a bit sad that I didn’t discover this series when I was Tiffany’s age, but I’m glad I can enjoy it now!