Book Recommendation: The Wee Free Men

2 Jan

by Jenn Fitzgerald

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I’m already a big Terry Pratchett fan, so I was excited to read his YA work, though this book is pretty much Middle Grade. It’s got a couple of large vocabulary words that might throw young readers, but they’re usually explained right there in the text. I don’t know many books that can use susurrus effectively, but this is one of them. The writing is engaging, as Pratchett normally is, and because it’s aimed at a younger audience than most of his Discworld books, it doesn’t have the same references to new technology and politics. I found it to be a nice change that helped set more of a fairy-tale feel for the book.

The summary from Goodreads should be enough to convince you to pick up a copy:

“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “All the monsters are coming back.

“Why?” said Tiffany.

“There’s no one to stop them.”

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, “There’s me.”

Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnaped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk’s local Nac Mac Feegle — aka the Wee Free Men — a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds — black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors — before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone….

Tiffany hits monsters in the face with a frying pan. I approve. She’s also a strong character, with flaws and weaknesses that she has to face before she can confront the Queen. Reading this I empathized with Tiffany, I remembered being eleven and how annoying it was having to help with my little sister and loved how dead-on this little know-it-all was written.

I really enjoyed the characters in general. The Feegles are hilarious and inappropriate. It was fun to have cameos of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, to tie the story into the rest of Discworld, and they managed not to steal the show. The monsters were great too and I loved the way the fairyworld was described as a parasite latching onto and bleeding through to the real world.

One thing that might annoy some readers is the way flashbacks are woven into the narrative. I’m generally not a big fan of flashbacks, especially when they appear as big chunks of italicized text, but I thought they worked well in this book.

The Wee Free Men is a fun read and I’d recommended to anyone, but especially Discworld fans and those who still enjoy kids’ stories.

~~~

Jennifer Fitzgerald is the author of a middle grade fantasy novel, PRISCILLA THE EVIL, which she is currently querying. She is also is a Ph.D student in archaeology, focusing on East Asia. You can visit her blog here or follow her on Twitter.

 

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9 Responses to “Book Recommendation: The Wee Free Men”

  1. Julie Eshbaugh January 2, 2011 at 1:45 PM #

    Jenn! I was so psyched to see this book recommendation! I loved this book and I’m so glad LTWF is spreading the word about it. Great post! 🙂

    • jenn fitzgerald January 3, 2011 at 12:38 AM #

      Thanks Julie! I really liked it and I’m planning on starting the next in the series tomorrow!

  2. Sammy Bina January 2, 2011 at 1:53 PM #

    Way to ring in the new year, Jenn! I’ve never really been big on MG, but I just might have to pick this one up. It sounds great! Plus, lord knows I love a strong heroine!

    • jenn fitzgerald January 3, 2011 at 12:40 AM #

      It’s a fun read! I think I’ll always love MG because it reminds me what being a kid was like

  3. CA Marshall January 2, 2011 at 4:48 PM #

    Yay!!!! Thanks so much for this recommendation! The Tiffany Aching series is just simply fantastic. I actually cried several times while reading I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT recently because that will probably be the last of the series!

    • jenn fitzgerald January 3, 2011 at 12:42 AM #

      I know, it’s so sad to think it’s all coming to an end!

  4. Angela January 2, 2011 at 7:41 PM #

    I`ve never read any of Terry Pratchett`s works. What`s a good one to start with?

    The heroine with the frying pan reminds me of the girl in Tangled.

    • Sammy Bina January 2, 2011 at 9:14 PM #

      Which is an AWESOME movie.

    • jenn fitzgerald January 3, 2011 at 12:48 AM #

      I started with Monstrous Regiment, which is a standalone, and then I read the Watch series, which I love. I’d suggest reading a few book blurbs and picking whichever sounds most interesting. The writing is better in the later books, but it can take a while to figure out who everyone is if you pick up a later book in a series first. You can try a couple of the stand alone books like Small Gods or Pyramids or pick a series like the witches to read. It all depends what yuo’re interested in, the Witches tend to be more parodies of literature classics, the Watch series is more political, and the wizards are just crazy.

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