- First published in 2010 by Doubleday
- Format: Paperback – Published in 2012 by Corgi
- Reading Time: 2 enjoyable days
- Battle with time is starting to pay off. This is my penultimate Turtle Recall book and I think I made the right choice when I decided to pick the penultimate Tiffany Aching book until the end of the year. You can probably guess which book is going to be my final Turtle Recall book. For now, Tiffany is fifteen and is well established as the Chalk’s witch. Being a witch, however, means you’re always on the fringes and Tiffany is starting to feel it. In fact, she’s feeling it a lot more than she should. Something is poisoning people’s hearts with hatred and turning them against her and all witches. And, when people turn on witches, it’s always the innocent old ladies and defenceless non-magical outcasts who suffer. That something is an ancient evil that Tiffany must bring down if she wanted to save herself and her home.
- Really loved the build up all the way through. From the first mention of the hare, you’ll be desperate to know where it comes into play. The hints and repetitions of the crucial song are very frequent and it does a great job of increasing the anticipation without giving too much away.
- I am in love with the idea of spill words and the idea of taking heat or someone’s physical pain away and channelling it into something more productive. What a novel way to wash your hands! The book describes it in a way that sounds very logical and implies that there are moral limits. For instance, trying to take away emotional pain isn’t something that should ever be done and the book tells us just enough to let us know the consequences are unpleasant without ever spelling out what they are.
- Laughs nearly all come from the Nac Mac Feegles and Nanny Ogg. This is perhaps a little lower on the madcap humour of the previous book but there are still some very funny moments. I think my favourite has got to be a footnote on the symbolism of horse’s hooves in statues. It’s small but it’s very funny.
- Left me on the edge of my seat several times, both in terms of horror at how bad things could get for Tiffany and in terms of anticipating of how she was going to get herself out of it. I will admit there were a few frustrating moments that could have been easily cleared up if the characters communicated clearly but the rest of the action made up for it. One of the best plot twists was the return of a character we haven’t seen since the very early Discworld novels. I won’t spoil who but I was absolutely delighted to see them.
- Incredible new characters. Tiffany has come into her own and is a much more confident witch than she was in earlier books so it’s time for other characters to get some development. This includes Preston (a very overqualified guard), Amber (a girl from an abusive home who needed more than Tiffany’s urgent treatment after her father went too far) and Letitia (Roland’s betrothed and a person you definitely should not write off as wet). Even the Duchess, who readers will hate at first sight, gets some redeeming qualities later on. First impressions are very deceiving indeed in this book.
- A marvellous allegory for hatred in the Cunning Man. He’s an absolutely chilling villain and someone you could believe would spring into life to turn otherwise reasonable everyday people into unrecognisable, vitriol-spouting beasts. He takes the worst of both the hiver and the Wintersmith (the villains from the previous books) and combines them into something even more terrifying. Tiffany and the book takes a surprisingly nuanced take on confronting hatred and bigotry. They remind the reader that, even though it is so easy to hit back as hard as the other person hit you, you need to remember there is still a person behind the hurtful comments. A misinformed person who is probably hurting and who is taking it out on you because they can’t do anything else about it. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. The book doesn’t get preachy. Tiffany’s no saint when dealing with people who put her down and she shows how hard it is to remember bigots are still human. She also shows how hard it is to stop other people from becoming monsters when dealing with monsters too and how quickly people can misunderstand her motives if she doesn’t deal with the narrative carefully.
- Not expecting where the romance subplot to go the way it indeed. The previous Tiffany Aching books led readers to believe that Tiffany’s love life would go one way but, then, it went dramatically in another direction. It didn’t lead to the anticipated conclusion at all but I think it was for the best. I’m happy with where it’s going. Sorry for being vague but I don’t want to spoil it.
- The ending was a lovely ‘full-circle’ sort of ending in more ways than one (there’s a dash of time travel). It’s also an unabashedly happy ending and I absolutely love it. It felt like a great reward after that dramatic, fast-paced climax. I’ve got to say that I’ve enjoyed the Tiffany Aching books the most during Total Recall and this might be drifting towards my top Discworld book.
Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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