Although not, unfortunately, for a Good Omens sequel. At least, not so far as I know (but those multiple editions of Good Omens in every Barnes and Noble certainly do confuse the issue…).
Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky
A friend got me The Wee Free Men as a late birthday present (along with Flora Segunda, which I will get to when it is not boxed up along with the vast majority of my book collection). I’m not typically a big Pratchett fangirl; I loved Hogfather with a violent passion, but none of the other Death books ever really did it for me, and I’ve read a couple of the witches books but was not particularly enamored with any of them (although they are DAMN entertaining). The Wee Free Men, however, is fanfuckingtastic, and I highly recommend it.
The book stars Tiffany Aching, a young girl with a little brother named Wentworth whom she doesn’t particularly like, a dead granny whom she badly misses, and a talent for witchcraft that could really get her into trouble in a village where they still like to burn women who wear pointy hats. She lives in the Chalk, a shepherding community where sheep are life; she spends her days running her parents’ dairy and honing her talent for being ignored whenever she feels like it (and sometimes when she doesn’t). Annoyingly, baby Wentworth follows her everywhere. But life is more or less good, until one day she spots a fairy tale creature down at the local stream. And kicks its ass, very creatively.
Then, of course, the queen of the fairies steals Wentworth (why? Who knows. All he does is scream for sweets). Aided by the Nac Mac Feegles, the foul-mouthed, blue-skinned, six-inch-high Wee Free Men of the title, Tiffany sets off on a journey to save him.
I loved The Wee Free Men so much that I immediately went out and picked up the sequels, A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith. I finished A Hat Full of Sky, but I’ve rather stalled out on Wintersmith. Frankly, the unfortunate truth is that after The Wee Free Men, Tiffany kind of degenerates into a Canon Sue. Part of the problem is that Pratchett brought in one of the main characters from the witches books, Granny Weatherwax, and of course Tiffany is the only one to touch her stone-cold little heart. Also, Tiffany is so omigod amazing that both sequels focus on a supernatural being taking an extreme liking to her–in A Hat Full of Sky, a creature called the hiver wants to basically take over Tiffany’s brain because it so OMIGOD AWESOME, and in Wintersmith, the spirit of winter develops a crush on her. Seriously. SERIOUSLY.
I haven’t finished Wintersmith, so I’m not going to bash it–and even when I do finish, I probably still won’t criticize it all that much even if it keeps making Tiff so amazing. Because honestly? At heart, I am still a teenage girl, and teenage girls love the idea of the cold (literally!), heartless spirit of winter falling in love with them. Still. I like all three of these books, but my feeling right now is that A Hat Full of Sky DEFINITELY did not live up to the potential of The Wee Free Men, and that Wintersmith probably won’t. And that annoys me.
Recommended for: Pratchett-lovers, people who like a pragmatic heroine.
Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys
Fat Charlie (who is not actually fat) has been cursed with the world’s most humiliating father; fortunately, he hasn’t seen the old bastard in years. Unfortunately, Charlie’s fiancee Rosie is one of those relentless do-gooder types, and she insists that Charlie contact his dear old dad so that he can invite him to the wedding and thereby mend fences. But when Charlie gets ahold of an old family friend, he’s informed that daddy dearest has just kicked it.
Also, his dad was apparently the Trickster God Anansi, and Charlie has a brother named Spider that he never knew about.
Shenanigans, predictably, ensue.
I didn’t expect to really care for this, frankly, because I’ve read Neverwhere and Coraline, and both of them left me rather cold (although that was probably at least partially the point). But Anansi Boys has a reasonably compelling plot, the forays into the realm of the gods aren’t long-winded or boring (as such forays typically are), and Gaiman has crafted a wonderfully sly narrative voice. Actually, it was the narrator that really sold me on this book–it had this incredibly underhanded and understated sense of humor that you really had to pay attention to catch, but once you did? Omigod, y’all, I rolled . Well worth the price of admission, and then some.
Recommended for: Anyone who likes good, relatively light fantasy.
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