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Tiffany Aching put one foot wrong, made one little mistake . . .

And now the spirit of winter is in love with her. He gives her roses and icebergs, says it with avalanches and showers her with snowflakes - which is tough when you're 13, but also just a little bit . . . cool.

And just because the Wintersmith wants to marry you is no excuse for neglecting your chores. So Tiffany must look after Miss Treason, who's 113 and has far too many eyes, learn the secret of Boffo, catch Horace the cheese, stop the gods from seeing her in the bath -


Oh, yes, and be helped by the Nac Mac Feegles - whether she wants it or not.

But if Tiffany doesn't work it all out, there will never be another springtime . . .




When the storm came, it hit the hills like a hammer. No sky should hold as much snow as this, and because no sky could, it fell; fell in a wall of white. There was a small hill of snow where there had been, a few hours ago, a little cluster of thorn trees on an ancient mound. This time last year there had been a few early primroses; now there was just snow.

Part of the snow moved. A piece about the size of an apple rose up, with smoke pouring out around it. A hand no larger than a rabbit’s paw waved the smoke away.

A very small, but very angry blue face, with the lump of snow still balanced on top of it, looked out at the sudden white wilderness. ‘Ach, crivens! ’ it grumbled. ‘Will ye no’ look at this? ’Tis the work o’ the wintersmith! Noo there’s a scunner that willnae tak’ “no” fra’ a answer! ’ Other lumps of snow were pushed up. More heads peered out.

‘Oh waily, waily, waily! ’ said one of them. ‘He’s found the big wee hag again! ’ The first head turned towards this head, and said, ‘Daft Wullie? ’ ‘Yes, Rob? ’ ‘Did I no’ tell ye to lay off that waily business? ’ ‘Aye, Rob, ye did that, ’ said the head addressed as Daft Wullie. ‘So why did ye just do it? ’ ‘Sorry, Rob. It kinda bursted oot. ’ ‘It’s so dispiritin’. ’ ‘Sorry, Rob. ’ Rob Anybody sighed. ‘But I fear ye’re right, Wullie. He’s come for the big wee hag, right enough. Who’s watching’ over her doon at the farm? ’ ‘Wee Dangerous Spike, Rob. ’ Rob looked up at clouds so full of snow that they sagged in the middle. ‘OK, ’ he said, and sighed again. ‘It’s time fra’ the Hero. ’ He ducked out of sight, the plug of snow dropping neatly back into place, and slid down into the heart of the Feegle mound.

It was quite big inside. A human could just about stand up in the middle, but they would then bend double with coughing because the middle was where there was a hole to let smoke out. All around the inner wall were tiers of galleries, and every one of them was packed with Feegles. Usually the place was awash with noise, but now it was frighteningly quiet.

Rob Anybody walked across the floor to the fire, where his wife Jeannie was waiting. She stood up straight and proud, like a kelda should, but close up it seemed to him that she had been crying. He put his arm around her. ‘All right, ye probably ken what’s happenin’, ’ he told the blue and red audience looking down on him. ‘This is nae common storm. The wintersmith has found the big wee hag – now then, settle doon! ’ He waited until the shouting and sword-rattling had died down, then went on: ‘We cannae fight the wintersmith for her! That’s her road! We cannae walk it for her! But the hag o’ hags has set us on another path! It’s a dark one, and dangerous! ’ A cheer went up. Feegles liked the idea of this, at least. ‘Right! ’ said Rob, satisfied at this. ‘Ah’m awa’ tae fetch the Hero! ’ There was a lot of laughter at this, and Big Yan, the tallest of the Feegles, shouted, ‘It’s tae soon. We’ve only had time tae gi’e him a couple o’ heroing lessons! He’s still nae more than a big streak o’ nothin’! ’ ‘He’ll be a hero for the big wee hag and that’s an end o’ it, ’ said Rob sharply. ‘Noo, off ye go, the whole boilin’ o’ ye! Tae the chalk pit! Dig me a path tae the Underworld! ’

Terry Pratchett kicks the bejaysus out of JK Rowling...If you haven't read Pratchett before then give yourself a treat and buy this book.

In Dublin

Oodles of dry wit, imagination and shrewdly observed characters

Independent on Sunday

Pratchett's one-liners, the comic dialogue of the Feegles, the satire about teenagers and the credulousness of the ordinary folk make for a characteristically entertaining mix.

Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times

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