A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett. ★★★★★
A Hat Full of Sky is the second book in the Tiffany Aching series, a subseries of the Discworld books. While I don’t think you have to read The Wee Free Men prior to reading A Hat Full of Sky, I would encourage it.
Tiffany Aching now is eleven years old and leaving the Chalk to become the apprentice of another witch. However, Tiffany is being followed by a dangerous disembodied creature which takes over minds. It has never been defeated, and Tiffany is far from home.
“There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.”
A Hat Full of Sky is a truly excellent book. Tiffany is a fantastic character in so many ways, and to the best of my recollection, her experiences as an eleven year old girl ring true. Tiffany is faced with a choice between conforming or being true to herself, which is difficult for everyone but particularly preteens.
One of the great things about the Tiffany books is that there’s so many well written, capable female characters. Tiffany’s surrounded by female allies and mentors, from Miss Tick to Granny Weatherwax to Miss Level to Petulia to Jeannie. I especially like how characters like Petulia and Jeannie get so much sympathy when it would be easy for them to fall into stereotypes. Even Annagramma gets character growth in the upcoming novels.
“Granny Aching had never been at home with words. She collected silence like other people collected string. But she had a way of saying nothing that said it all.”
And as always, this book is so well written! Terry Pratchett has a remarkable way with words and is always able to find uniquely fitting descriptions. Of course, he’s also amazingly funny at the same time.
“Witches didn’t fear much, Miss Tick had said, but what the powerful ones were afraid of, even if they didn’t talk about it, was what they called “going to the bad.” It was too easy to slip into careless little cruelties because you had power and other people hadn’t, too easy to think other people didn’t matter much, too easy to think that ideas like right and wrong didn’t apply to you.”
There’s a lot of depth to A Hat Full of Sky and so much humanity. The witches books have always been about standing on the edge, about doing the right thing, about taking responsibility, and A Hat Full of Sky is a proud successor to this tradition.
“There isn’t a way things should be. There’s just what happens, and what we do.”
I recommend A Hat Full of Sky to absolutely everyone, but if you ever have need of a book to give an eleven or twelve year old girl… I can’t think of a better title.