I do love me some Witches. This is the fifth Witches book and unfortunately it’s almost the end of their subseries with only a couple books left in their adventures after this, unless you count Granny in her cameos in Tiffany Aching’s books.
It’s autumn on the Discworld…the leaves are changing colors, the geese are flying south, and Granny is brooding. It’s the kind of weather that makes you think of leaving, and Nanny is worried that Granny will hitch a ride with the exiting wildlife never to return. Granny is brooding because the witches coven went from the standard three members down to two when Magrat left to be Queen. Nanny is trying to find a way to keep Granny grounded and cheer her up when a letter comes in the mail… and it turns out Nanny has been writing a cookbook (and you can actually buy this cookbook, too). However, when Granny reads the letter she finds out that Nanny is not making her fair share from her work and Granny wants to go tell the publisher what’s what. So, they make a trek out to the city of Ankh Morpork.
The subplot for this one revolves around Agnes Nitt, her singing ability, and her split personality. It’s probably one of the only instances of DID I’ve seen in fantasy, I wouldn’t say it’s terribly accurate but it’s definitely interesting. Agnes is a very sweet, proper, charming young lady who has an inner voice dying to get out to say all the things that she represses. She reminds me a bit of Ned Flanders and how he stamped down all his anger and frustration to the point where he can’t even curse correctly. In a similar fashion, when Agnes gets very upset she “thinks a rude word” unable to actually utter it. However, her inner voice Perdita has no problem with rude words. Her inner voice has a lot of attitude so she named her Perdita X, and this split personality comes into play again later on in Carpe Jugulum. Agnes is very fat, and it’s a trait that keeps her noticed and invisible at the same time. People don’t often think about her, but it’s hard to miss her when she’s in a room. She’s got an amazing voice and she wants to be an opera singer… but it’s the year of the fruitbat and the old fashioned views of opera where it doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you can sing are days in the past, and not coming back. The opera casts a very pretty blond as the star, but they put Agnes hidden in the background and have her sing over the blond. From the audience perspective it looks like the pretty blond is the one with the talent. All the while, the opera house is being haunted. Someone is killing people off left and right and it’s being pinned on an angry ghost. So while Agnes is ghosting the performance, a ghost is also killing cast and crew behind scenes.
As always, Nanny and Granny were the stars of the show for me. I adore their back and forth and their completely opposing dynamics. I love odd ball couples, and I love how these two always look out for each other. What gets Esme up and moving? The thought of her friend being ripped off. I love that Esme has holds no truck with sexual things herself – but when she went to Ms. Palms she calls her “practically a witch” and says that “people think witches are bad, too” and to paraphrase, says that people shouldn’t look down on sex workers. She nearly refuses to address her own sexuality. She once insisted that she’s clothed all the way down and is not naked under her clothes (in a different book) but in this instance she can readily accept sex work as a time old profession made up of people who deserve respect. When Nanny and Granny first show up at Ms. Palms Nanny assumes Granny has not a clue where they are or what the brothel does. She tries to give very subtle hints, but when Granny plays dumb she finally says, “This is a place of ill repute!!!!” To which Granny said, “Actually, I think people speak quite highly of it”, Nanny, “YOU KNEW!” Granny “course I knew”. Gods I love this character.
This was a great book. I wouldn’t put it in my top 10 for the whole series, I think I’ll make that list when I’m done with my re-read. However, this is a super fun and quick read and for anyone who has already read a Witches book, you could pick up here and enjoy yourself a lot.
- Plot: 12/15
- Characters: 14/15
- World Building: 14/15
- Writing: 14/15
- Pacing: 12/15
- Originality: 12/15
- Enjoyment: 8.5/10
Final Score: 86.5/100 or 4.5/5 stars on Goodreads