The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Tiffany Aching is a 9-year-old farm girl who is good with cheese and sees the world through steady eyes. She doesn’t like her younger brother that much, as he gets in her way and is constantly sticky, but when he is abducted by the Queen of the Fairies, she is determined to get him back. With the help of a group of rowdy pictsies named the Nac Mac Feegle, the “wee men” of the title who got kicked out of the Queen’s kingdom for being drunk and disorderly, Tiffany travels to the world of the fairies. Can Tiffany defeat the Queen, with only her wits, a frying pan, and the help of the Nac Mac Feegle? Can she save her brother and Roland, a useless boy from the village who also wandered into fairyland? Does she have what it takes to be a true witch, in a land where all your dreams come true, even the terrible ones? Find out by reading The Wee Free Men.
This is a young adult fantasy novel that lives in Pratchett’s Discworld universe. Tiffany is a great character, with many flaws but lots of heart. There are themes that will make this book relatable for many kids and teens, like having annoying siblings, death and grief, and finding out what who you are and what you want to do. The book is very funny, and it has the perfect amount of naughtiness in this book – there’s enough faux swearing by the Nac Mac Feegle to delight kids, but not too much. The Wee Free Men is delightful to read out loud to the family, especially if you ham it up with the Nac Mac Feegle dialogue. This is the first book in the Tiffany Aching series, which is a great introduction for young readers to fantasy fiction in general and Discworld in particular. Adult fans of Discworld will like Pratchett’s familiar fantasy-with-a-twist-humor and the cameo by Granny Weatherwax.
Recommended for ages 10-14, grades 4-8.
From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Wee-Free-Men-Discworld/dp/0060012382/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1405965168&sr=8-1
From King County Library System in Book, Illustrated Book, ebook, Downloadable Audiobook, and Audiobook CD: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?custom_query=title%3A(%22wee%20free%20men%22)&suppress=true&custom_edit=false
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
A Discovery of Witches is a fantasy novel that feels like a combination of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, with far more witches. The main character, Diana, is a witch who wishes she was just a human. She studies the history of alchemy at Oxford University, and her world is shaken when she looks at a strange book and meets a handsome, brooding vampire named Matthew Claremont. Diana is quickly drawn into the supernatural world of witches, vampires, and deamons, and gets entangled in their politics.
Like Twilight, A Discovery of Witches takes a little bit of time to get the plot going, and it echoes The Historian with its scholar of European history stumbling into a supernatural world. The real delight in reading A Discovery of Witches is the unfolding relationship between Diana and Matthew. As they get to know each other, their walls start to come down, even as they both find out things that should make them reconsider. Diana is a more grown up and strong-willed heroine than Bella of Twilight, and seeing how Diana and Matthew negotiate an adult relationship is entertaining and authentic.
The author does spend too much time on the intricacies of alchemy for my tastes, but the specifics aren’t important to the plot of the book, so I mostly glossed over the in-depth descriptions of alchemical drawings.
Fans of A Discovery of Witches will be pleased to know that it is part of a trilogy. The second book, Shadow of Night, is out now, and the third, The Book of Life, is due out in July 2014. I gobbled up the first two books and I’m eagerly awaiting the third.
From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Discovery-Witches-Novel-Souls-Trilogy/dp/0143119680/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie
From King County Library System in book, e-book, audio cd, large print book, and preloaded audio player: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?custom_query=%28contributor%3A%28Harkness%2C%20Deborah%29%20AND%20title%3A%28discovery%20of%20witches%29%20%29&suppress=true&custom_edit=false=UTF8&qid=1389145973&sr=1-1&keywords=discovery+of+witches