This is Terry Pratchett’s second novel for younger readers about Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men. Tiffany leaves the Chalk Downs to study her craft with Miss Lever, a rather absent-minded but kindly witch who performs her stock in trade healing the minor ailments and trivial but pressing problems of the local villagers rather than indulging in excessive pyrotechnics.
She becomes possessed by a hiver – a parasitical entity who completely takes over its host and devours its personality. The Nac Mac Feegle come to the rescue – a pugilistic and endearing race of fairies with a ferocious appetite for alcohol and a fierce loyalty to Tiffany. All ends well – but not before the reader has been hurtled through a series of often hilarious scenarios with a carefully devised blend of wit and the simple wisdom of a clear-cut moral line.
Comparisons with Harry Potter are, predictably, inevitable. What sets the two apart is the cheerful irreverence and the absence of brooding darkness. This is a long book but it will be eagerly devoured by Pratchett fans from nine years upwards.