- Published in 1998 by Doubleday
- Format: Paperback – Published in 2013 by Corgi
- Reading Time: 7 slow days
- Undertaking another Turtle Recall book as time starts to run out on 2020. I’m not giving up yet though! Especially as this was one I was looking forward to as it contains vampires and not the usual Black Ribboners we’ve seen so far. These vampires (or, vampyres, as these forward-thinking undead like to be called) were invited as a gesture of peace on the part of King Verence. It’s up to the crotchety neighbourhood witches (and some very unhappy displaced pictsies) to make sure he lives long enough to regret it.
- Need to have read Small Gods before this one. Knowing the real story of Brutha makes the references so much funnier. I don’t think you’ll need to have read the rest of the Witches series though. You’ll be able to pick up where the last book left off quickly.
- Down on the interesting subplots somewhat. The search for the phoenix had promise but the scenes were a bit too few and far between to get truly invested. I felt Pratchett’s take on the phoenix was original but more could have been done with it.
- Excellent take on the beginning of Sleeping Beauty at the start. I was expecting more of a payoff after so much build up or even a little snarky reference at the end (e.g. Granny saying something like ‘what did you think I was going to do, curse the baby?’). Unfortunately, it just got swallowed up by the bigger plot and went nowhere.
- Rather surprising to find Nac Mac Feegles in this book. It’s definitely an early version of the Feegles and some elements got dumped by the time The Wee Free Men came around but they are still recognisable. Which is something that can’t be said for their dialogue. If you’re not listening to an audiobook, you’ll need to say it out loud to get what they’re saying. Even if you do understand, you should say it out loud anyway. It’s fun.
- Working in most of the standard vampire tropes (with the exception of the lemons) but in a very Pratchett-ish way. These vampires are trying to have it both ways: they want to live how they choose but they also want to be part of the community. They aren’t affected by the usual vulnerabilities and, unlike a lot of other authors, the reasons for that are rather interesting. Pratchett had a good go at analysing some of the nonsensical parts of the myth but it personally let me cold. The bits with the vampires ‘rebelling’ with brightly coloured clothes and names like Tracy was funny but none of the vampire characters were well-developed or even that memorable. As awful as that sounds, I sort of wish this book hadn’t included the Witches and that writing a one-off with vampires as the sole main characters might have been better. The Witches were great as ever but they might have been better as minor characters in this case.
- Had an interesting new addition to the cast in Agnes Nitt, a person who is constantly in two minds. Unlike others, that other mind has a name and a very persistent voice that’s annoying most times but very useful this time. The other new character is Mightily Oats, an Omnian priest whose bookishness and blind faith hits a brick wall when he comes up against Lancre and literal-mindedness. He has some pretty good quotable discussions with other characters on religious themes and it was satisfying to see him deal with his faith being shaken. Both were interesting but I can’t honestly say that
- Excellent plays on words thoroughout but I think the best part by far was when Igor talks about, ah, what runs in his family. They come at you fast and so thick and it’s easily one of the funniest parts of the book.
- Lingers a bit too long at one point in the plot about three quarters of the way in. It’s easy to lose track of what’s going on as everyone seems to be preparing for some big ambush but not a lot seems to be happening.
- Made a hash of reading it again. I really need to stop reading physical books too slowly. I do think it might be worth a reread in the future. I definitely feel like I’m missing a lot of good stuff.
- I got a bit lost on what Granny was doing by the end. It could pick up the gist but it all got a bit obscure near the end. I could enjoy the action when it came, laugh at the jokes throughout and cheer when the final blow was struck but I felt that I wasn’t really appreciating it as much as I should be.
- Nice plays on the classic old magic tropes such as the maiden, mother, crone archetypes and the magpie rhymes. I also liked the Gnarly Ground scene around the beginning and how much it can play on a person’s perception. It’s another thing I wish I had seen more of.
- Got to say I’m a little disappointed to how this turned out. Pratchett tried to play with the vampire tropes but I think he could have done a lot more with the concept. This book had a lot of good ideas, in fact, but I’m not that satisfied with what was done with them.
Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
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