Tiffany Aching has discovered she is a witch, has gone through training, has accidentally joined a dance she shouldn’t have and has had to kiss the winter as a result. Now, she’s back at the Chalk, a 16-year-old girl, trying to manage her stead as a witch. It’s not going too horribly: she’s managing to get the things done that need doing, and for the most part people seem to respect her and her craft. Until one day, things start to unravel. It begins with a beating of a young girl by her father, and the rough music started. Then it morphs into something grander: the engagement of the Baron’s son, Roland, to Letitia, daughter of an uppity Duchess; the Baron’s death, and questions arise about Tiffany’s role in it; and an overall growing resentment and fear of witches. After a bit of investigation, it turns out that Tiffany had accidentally let out something quite evil; something which, if left to roam, will result in the demise of all the witches, which (in spite of what people might think) would not be a good thing. And it’s up to her to make things right again.
I know it sounds dark, and there are some dark moments, but this book is so wonderfully affirming, so incredibly hopeful, that it isn’t the dark bits that stand out. While it’s not as hilarious as some of the other books in the series, it’s still quite amusing. And Tiffany really, truly comes into her own. She has to give up some things, and learn some things, and make some difficult decisions, and she does it all with grace and humor and compassion. She makes some new friends, looking past prejudice and bad first impressions to see that everyone is wonderfully more complicated and interesting that we give them credit for at first.
A perfect ending for an excellent series.
Rated: Mild for some adult humor and mild swearing.