Book Review: Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett. This is the latest in the Tiffany Aching sub-series of Discworld books, aimed at younger (i.e., adolescent) readers. You know, the Harry Potter books are decent enough, and I’m glad they’ve got kids reading, and reading big thick books at that. But none of them have yet contained one of those little passages that Pratchett tends to have all over the place, that just drop your jaw with how well-written it is. The ones that hit you like a sledgehammer in the chest, like this one, which appears at the end of a chapter in which a funeral occurs, after the grave has been filled in and all but one of the mourners have left:
Tiffany sat on a stump and cried for a bit, because it needed to be done. Then she went and milked the goats, because someone needed to do that, too.
If there has ever been a more perfect expression of grief, and of the letting go of grief, in the English language, well, I've never read it. And the fact that a passage of such exquisite beauty can inhabit the same book that features six-inch tall blue highlanders shouting "Ach! Crivins!", a witch who specializes in holding her breath and swimming away underwater after being thrown in the river by paranoid villagers, and a kitten named You (as in "You! Stop that!" and "You, get down from there!"), just makes the whole thing that much more amazing.
To anyone reading this: If you like Harry Potter, you need to meet Tiffany Aching. The book to start with is called The Wee Free Men, and is followed by A Hat Full of Sky and then Wintersmith. According to Pratchett (at a convention in 2004), the fourth one will be called When I Am Old I Shall Wear Midnight, but we don't know yet when that one will be written and published.
After those, you'll probably want to consult the L-space Web Reading Order Guides and perhaps read the "Witch" sub-series, since several of the same characters are involved in those. Or just start back at the beginning with The Colour of Magic and read 'em all through in chronological order.