67. How to Build a Girl 

This is not my first encounter with Caitlin Moran because I’m already a bit of a fan. Raised by Wolves (written by Moran for Channel 4) was one of those TV programs that I couldn’t help but love because it is reminiscent of families I knew growing up, and of my own family, friends and just about everyone I knew before I went to university. Sure it’s a bit of a piss-take, but it captures the rough as muck, angry crust that makes the pride of Black Country people. And let’s face it, if we aren’t taking the piss out of you and cracking vulgar jokes while drinking your beer and eating your crisps – we probably don’t like you.

Moran is a familiar voice. She is a working-class girl who has triumphed in journalism and her authenticity comes through in How to Build a Girl.

How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran

This isn’t a perfect novel however, this isn’t a sleek novel with a thin layer of polish on the mahogany. This novel is a bit like a pub table. It has hundreds of ancient layers of varnish that are pockmarked with lighter scorches, it wobbles a little, and the corners are bashed to all hell, but it works.

“So far, the only plan I’ve come up with is writing. I can write, because writing – unlike choreography, architecture or conquering kingdoms – is a thing you can do when you’re lonely and poor, and have no infrastructure, i.e.: a ballet troupe, or some cannons. Poor people can write. It’s one of the few things poverty, and a lack of connections, cannot stop you doing.” p. 31

How to Build a Girl is the story of well-read Joanna Morrigan, a 14 year old girl living in 90s Wolverhampton who is trying to reinvent herself. She refers to this reinvention as killing herself, a sort of suicide of the old to allow the new to take over and conquer. This is a twist on a coming of age story with a lot of vulgarity, humour, and of course – writing.

Joanna first takes to trying to write a novel, and when she realises this is a non-starter, she enters a poem into a competition. On winning the competition she is invited to be interviewed on national television and this strange, unpopular, overweight teenager does something terrible, an impression of Scooby Doo, which subsequently means she can never show her face in public again.

From this point Joanna decides to turn her hand to music journalism, takes up a new name, Dolly Wilde, and becomes a sort of goth. For a while this doesn’t help her other quest which is to become not a not-kissed, virgin until then she finds some success in her new career, leaves school, and begins mixing with a crowd of cynics from work.

There are a lot of balls flying around in this novel from this point. Johanna’s escapades into sex are focused on pleasing her male partners and not actually in finding pleasure for herself. Johanna realises that class is a significant part of her life when she realises she is her not-quite-boyfriend’s ‘little bit of rough’. This leads to her shouting at him, demanding that actually he is actually ‘her little bit of posh’ (I’ve been there). There is the love interest, the eccentric John Kite, the alcoholic, chain-smoker who is far too eloquent. And of course Johanna learns that being a cynic rather than a fan in her work earns her a more work, but also how poison cynicism can be.

“Cynicism is, ultimately, fear. Cynicism makes contact with your skin, and a thick black carapace begins to grow – like insect armour. This armour will protect your heart, from disappointment – but it leaves you almost unable to work. You cannot dance, in this armour. Cynicism keeps you pinned to the spot, in the same posture, forever.” – p. 262

Johanna is an interesting character as development goes, there is all the enthusiasm and excitement and desperation associated with 14 year old girls and navigating teenage years. But it is satisfying as she comes to conclusions in sometimes absurd ways. I quite like Johanna, but partly that is because she reminds me of girls I grew up with, and partly she reminds me of myself.

Her family are the honest to goodness, struggling to survive unit, on benefits, five kids, Mum struggling with postnatal depression, and Dad who hurt himself quite badly once, but still dreams of becoming a rockstar. There is something very ordinary about all of them, her parents love and support their daughter, Johanna herself wants to be daring and do something different from the rest of her family. And fundamentally I think she really wants to carve out her own identity.

This is a very relatable book, it’s funny, blunt and vulgar, it’s easy to read but it is raw and has spontaneity. This novel has certainly intrigued me about more of Moran’s work, but I am not certain I would read it again but I will certainly bestow How to Build a Girl’s virtues on anyone who asks (or doesn’t).

This is not a novel for a faint heart or the easily offended or for anyone who believes women do not masturbate. This novel has it’s balls out and firmly pressed to the shop window and is glorious in it’s blunt honesty.

66. The Trial 

This is a difficult read. I bought The Essential Kafka a while ago and while reading The Trial decided it would be better split into several reads. My first impression was that I do not like Kafka. My feelings are very certain that he makes me uncomfortable as a reader. But that is a very powerful feeling and there are very complex feelings muddled up with my dislike. So because ‘there is something about Kafka’ (now isn’t that the title of a rom-com) that makes me want to understand why I feel this way I was compelled to research.

Because there is something about Kafka and I think he is worth working a little harder for.

The Essential Kafka (The Trial) – Franz Kafka 

The Trial is in many ways a nightmare to read. It is bewildering. There are no answers. Things are absurd, you are very powerless in this novel. It is claustrophobic and almost unbearable to read. I am sure there are many people that would put it down because this is not a fun ride – this book is out to physiologically ridicule you. It wants to make you uncomfortable. It wants to put you in a place where you are desperate and unhappy. Because that is the point of it.

So who was this so called person? Well, the Monument in German Literature was actually quite a complicated person. He was the unfortunate son of an abusive father. He grew up shy and bookish with an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. He was terribly afraid of his father and in his adult life he tried to write a letter to confront his father about his awful childhood that had left him feeling deformed. He suffered with his health. He was also so unsatisfied with his three major works, the Trial, the Castle and Amerika that he requested that they be destroyed after his death (but his friend published them instead).

Because of his work the term Kafkaesque has entered the vernacular, to describe circumstances that are characteristic or reminiscent of his oppressive and nightmarish fiction.

The Trial follows Josef K. a middle class, bachelor, management banker who wakes up one morning to find two men in his apartment telling him he is under arrest. Upon questioning them, they refuse to tell him his charges (they have also taken his breakfast hostage) even when he presents identification. One of the many absurdities in this novel is that K. is never actually told the charges nor are the nature of the judicial proceedings ever made clear to him. K. seems to never quite take it all seriously because of this.

Then K. tries to navigate bureaucracy, laws, and bewildering procedures trying to find what he has been charged with. But of course, nobody, not even his lawyer, has the answer to that. He goes into surreal buildings that all seem to be owned by the court. He has several long kissing sessions with various women (some of which throw themselves at him) and is told that he is an embarrassment to his family.

He accidentally walks in on two men being flogged. He accidentally has an encounter with an artist constantly swamped by children – who unsurprisingly work for the court and promises to help him. He mistreats his landlady and is generally an unsympathetic character who is abrasive, arrogant, and at the best of times a little clueless. He has a discussion with a Priest. Is picked up by two blundering men and is then executed by them “like a dog.”

It’s a bleak novel that leaves you with several unsavoury flavours which are: there are no answers, life is cruel and bewildering, and one is never in control of ones own destiny.

But this is also a novel that points to significant things about the legal system. In the Trial that system doesn’t serve justice, it’s soul function is to propitiate itself. The legal system is unstoppable even though K. is at liberty and allowed to carry on in his life and work, while his court proceedings are going on. He could run. He could set the courthouse on fire. He could go on a rampage and kill his way to the top to find answers. But he doesn’t.

I believe it is because the legal system is a living thing that has set it’s beady eye on K. and will have him guilty. He is almost being collared by an angry parent and K’s. certainty in his own innocence crumbles because said parent has sat him on the naughty step to think about what he has done, when he really has no idea.

How innocent K. is I guess is really up to the reader to decide, but within that discussion we open a couple of thought provoking doors that are really at the heart of the text. Through one door we can look at the novel as an intimate unravelling of K.’s mind, through another we question the subjective nature of innocence and morality and through another we question the totalitarian state K. is apparently part of.

I want to believe he is innocent and a victim of circumstance because I am essentially an optimist. But I don’t actually think it matters. One’s innocence is treated with a sort of apathy in the Trial as there are all sorts of people are watching you and making decisions about you based on rules you aren’t aware of. It seems the judgement of innocence is actually arbitrary by the end of the novel, and because of that justice itself is arbitrary.

The world defined in the Trial is one that is designed to make us feel powerless and is designed to reflect emotions that are otherwise unbearable. I think Kafka is one of the more thought provoking authors I have dived into and I am certain I will read more. But I am also aware I probably won’t like it, even if there is something about Kafka.

65. Your Resting Place 

We arrive at the end at last. In case you haven’t been following, Your Resting Place is the third and final instalment of the Walkin’ Trilogy by David Towsey. Your Brother’s Blood and Your Servants and Your People have been solid novels full of stoic characters, easy to read and enigmatically interesting. I was honestly a little sad to jump back into the plights of my favourite family struggling around this zombie-western, but only because that would mean that soon it would end. But my curiosity has been eating at me, so I devoured this novel in a day while listening to my Led Zeppelin records.

Your Resting Place – David Towsey

This novel has a very different feel to the previous two. Your Resting Place seems to grab you by the throat from the onset, the world seems harsher but with a faster pace. We do not spend a long time running away or dreading the horrible things in this novel, they happen abruptly, they find us because we are helpless to stop them finding us. After the ending of Your Servants and Your People this is not surprising. Towsey seems to have taken away the airbags and is ready to throw you into head on collisions and show you what his characters are made of and he does it so well.

Again some time has passed since the previous novel and we follow a new generation in the McDermott family. Ryan is a young adolescent who is trying very hard to survive on the farm with his alcoholic mother. Ryan is a little naive and innocent because of his relative isolation, but his home is far from a safe and cosy beginning and because of that he is a little bit of an old soul – I really liked him from the onset.

We come into his life at a point where things are as they are and have been that way for a very long time. He knows when to duck, he knows the sound of a bad mood through the walls of the house, he knows when to make himself scarce and how long to wait before waking his mother for breakfast. Ryan begins the novel already in the fire and Towsey simply offers the frying pan for him to jump into.

After his mother has a run in with a man and sinks into the very bottom of her despair Ryan finds himself with one difficult choice after another and ends up on the road heading who knows where.

Out of the three I think this novel really highlights the violence and brutality of life on the frontier. A difficult life was to be expected and many – if not all – of the characters have a cloud of sadness over them. However very few of Towsey’s characters ever give up, the courage they have to persevere and survive is almost tattooed onto their bones. Ceaselessly, they go on until they meet an unstoppable force and they must move.

Speaking of unstoppable forces, the Drowned Woman is hunting Ryan’s father. She is sort of absent from most of the novel bar the prologue and the end and is one of the novels most mysterious points. However she does introduce herself to Ryan in a very gentle way which conflicts with the talked about in hushed voices mythology she has with the other characters who know of her. If you’ve read the other books your little heart is fluttering away going and you’re experiencing the ‘AWWWWWWWWW! LOOK! Happiness might happen here… please let it happen here…’

Something that I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned about this series is that throughout there are strong and relatable female characters. The Drowned Woman isn’t the only badass woman in this series, but just like the men of these books not every one of them is a perfect shot and not every one of them has been entirely good their entire lives. People are stupid, but some of them make better choices as they get older and wiser.

When Ryan finally meets his Pa, the guy is this enigmatically stoic cube of a man practically carved out of the landscape itself. There is a sense that Pa has emotions that he wants to share and incorporate Ryan into, but also a detachment and distance. Having a relationship with the other books at this point also gives a you a little more to run with. There are reasons this man that makes me squeamish and want to yell ‘RUN HE IS A BAD MAN!’ but to avoid any spoilers I’m not going to go into why.

This is  the only novel out of the trilogy that I felt could stand up alone without the support of the others – which I feel is a remarkable strength. Sure you will miss the great history of the McDermott family, you will miss some hint of what has come before and where this world is but narratively Your Resting Place is quite self contained. Towsey assumes you have read these novels, but he does not spoon feed you and back peddle through tens of pages to ‘recap’ what has happened before.

The richness of Your Resting Place comes a little from knowing a little more about Ryan’s history than perhaps Ryan does. It leads to conflicted feelings as a reader and something that all brilliant novels should reflect on and that is: life is messy and certainly not straightforward.

I am very sad to be finally round this trilogy up, this has been a wonderful ride! These are wonderfully enigmatic books, they are well written, intelligent, they reinvigorate a genre with empathy, and I cannot praise them enough. I am very much looking forward to rereading them.

Thank you for writing them Dave and also for working so hard to make them happen.

64. The Plague 

It is time to just admit it isn’t it? To stop putting off the reality of this love affair and to throw it into the clear light of day where everyone can see it. Okay. So here it goes: I have a giant crush on Albert Camus and it will not go away.

I am completely seduced by his ideas. By the subtle writing style that caresses layers of meaning and by proxy me. By the anti-cliche scenes swinging their arms without awkwardness (like the old man who spits on the local cats every day). The easy grasp that commands all those separated lovers desperate to claw their way back into the company of whom they desire, but doesn’t patronise them. The Plague is a clinically observed whilst being deeply emotional. It toes the line between intimacy and dispassionateness. Both a hairbreadth close and a mile away. And I was right there watching it all with Dr. Rieux. Waiting to die and watching everybody around me die.

I can’t oversell this point enough: Camus gives me whiplash.

The Plague – Albert Camus

The irony of reading this novel while ill myself was not lost on me. This novel is not a riot of fun and joy. It is a deeply harrowing, melancholy place that will draw out your own misery if you yourself are suffering. But I recommend you read it in whatever state you come in but devote yourself to it. Give it time enough and experience this novel.

The Plague is the story of Bubonic Plague. Plague that arrives suddenly with rats in the town of Oran. The townspeople face a fast and horrifying end in the midst of a quarantine but attempt to continue on with some resemblance of life before the quarantine, while having their own personal battles with the Plague. Some accept their fate as the walking dead, some point blame, some panic, some try to escape and some work ceaselessly against the odds.

Dr. Rieux is our unheroic hero. Rieux walks the fine line of a professional during the epidemic, burying his own emotional exhaustion and hopelessness beneath his desire to fulfil his duty. While great portions of the novel seem detached and observant, there are also sections that act like intimacy in confidence. He is a man doing what must be done, while also being highly emotionally intelligent and empathetic and forcibly optimistic (perhaps so he too will survive).

While the novel follows Rieux it also wanders, taking up great portion of Tarrou’s diary, Rambert’s quest to escape the quarantine, and general observation of the townspeople. As I have already mentioned the Plague uses separated lovers, but it also tackles religious faith, personal redemption, and the horror of unnecessary physical suffering. One of the most potent moments in the Plague is witnessing a child suffering and then the collateral damage from that suffering shaking the faith of a priest.

But equally as significant is the genuine humanity, for example, in Rambert changing his mind and being wracked with guilt by the idea of escaping Oran. This is not a light decision, it comes about from several conversations and in them belongs one of those beautiful and inescapable lines that drives the spirit of the novel: “Man is not an idea, Rambert.”

This novel doesn’t act out a loud heroism or sensationalism, it demonstrates an ordinary courage that is desperate for perseverance despite all of the odds. And that ordinary courage within the Plague is so painfully beautiful, so humble, so matter-of-fact it has floored me at every turn.

“No doubt our love was still there, but quite simply it was unusable, heavy to carry, inert inside us, sterile as crime or condemnation. It was no longer anything except a patience with no future and a stubborn wait.” p. 142

Whether you are reading this novel out of curiosity, or for the allegory of France’s wartime trauma this is not a novel to be taken lightly. It is a heartfelt jolt of reflections as much as it is a narrative. It is not loud in it’s resistance, but it is not unyielding to pestilence. This is such a difficult novel to be objective about and to find faults with, it is a staggering feat, it is a love affair, and it has given me the most terrible hangover. And I want more.

This is real love baby. Real big love that’s thumping around the house with no care for anyone else. So yes, I will read this again and I think that everyone else in this world should read it too because my pal Al, well what can I say? He is one hell of a guy.

63. The Bhagavad Gita 

I believe it has gotten to that point in the year where I find myself successfully making good on all those promises I made to myself during the new year. The most important of all of these was to pull myself out of my comfort zone and not to feel trapped by it. Honestly there have been times recently when nobody is as surprised as me when I hear myself saying yes, and putting aside my own reluctance has led to good things. Relearning that it can be comfortable to take a chance on someone or something without expectation and survive is a wonderful thing.

‘Say yes’ is my new mantra, within reason… I’m not taking on contracts for murder.

So in this spirit of ‘say yes’ and in the spirit of this leading to the break in my 9 month hiatus from writing. I feel the all consuming need to put new ideas in my head and discover. So I thought it was time to discover how I feel about the Bhagavad Gita. 

The Bhagavad Gita – Translation W. J. Johnson 

The Bhagavad Gita is the most famous part of the Hindu Epic the Mahabharata. It is a very small part of the larger story and is mostly focused on a discussion between the warrior Arjuna and the God, Krishna. Stood on the battlefield, Arjuna falls to his knees wracked with the decision of what he should do. This battle is a complicated one as he possess friends and relatives on both sides and feels overwhelmed, distraught, and unable to move.

In the midst of his emotional turmoil, Krishna appears and they begin to have a conversation that veers off into a long philosophical discussion. Arjuna’s existential crisis is soothed by the God who explains there are many paths to God, that we all have a duty to strengthen the mind, that we all have a duty to perform our purpose, and that in mastering the mind and senses we will attain enlightenment (for a few).

On the face of this this is a man frozen in the midst of war being talked into it by a God. However Krishna offers a nest of solutions to Arjuna that point him into why he should fight, logically some of these discussions lead into other problems. Though some resolution is found and Arjuna finds he is then able to pick up his bow and the battle can then start.

“What is the right thing to do?” is the age old question that surely keeps more than just me awake at night. The Gita belongs to that long tradition of figuring out how to figure out how an action is the right one, as if somehow we can predict the consequences. It doesn’t really concern itself with good and evil, it concerns itself with the self and with the purpose of the self. But it is so tightly packed in 80 pages and there are so many translations that I don’t feel like this is a text you can read just once.

For my first go around, I enjoyed it. There was a lot to be gleaned from these pages and I am a sucker for anything that fixes my own existential crises but this is something I have to revisit in another translation. I also feel quite humbled to have read a text originally written in Sanskrit and to have a wonderful emotional reaction to it. Everyone, I think, has at some point found themselves at a crossroads unable to act because of the fear of action and what it’ll bring.

Coming full circle back to my own recent revelation of pulling myself out of my comfort zone, isn’t it actually kind of a beautiful thing that we still even do this? That as a species we still fall down on our personal battlefields unable to act, and that we still haven’t quite grown secure enough in our own judgements to then have to ask the question “what is the right thing to do?” Perhaps I am a romantic, but I believe that is what transcends time and culture and what is so easily accessible about the Gita.

62. Caliban’s War 

After an epic blockbuster like Leviathan Wakes, there is always the fear the following novels will just gradually nose dive in quality. Caliban’s War is the sequel that drags it’s feet a little but then left me in an unpleasant state of anxiety. There is nothing worse than having to leave your book while your characters are in peril because you have to sleep for work and this was a nightly thing. I had many times thinking ‘these books would’ve been awesome table top games’ because originally they were supposed to be. I had many mornings waking in a state of acute expectation to get back to the evening and into my book.

Caliban’s War had difficult job in following Leviathan Wakes. But once this sequel get’s it’s shit together it delivers a punch of an ending that resulted in me to flinging the book across the room because I hate cliffhangers… so… so very much.

Caliban’s War – James. S. A. Corey

This novel gave me a few problems actually. It is as much as the narrative moving on and also everybody having a bit of a crisis of faith with everything. Is it existentialism? Is it fear? And after such a long time of reading and becoming a little unhealthily attached to fictional works I also had the same crisis.

James Holden has lost the plot. He is now a cold, gunslinging, no bullshit, shoot first ask questions later guy, seemingly ready to start a war and shout at the people endorsing him all because he is terribly afraid. This is very different from the driven, righteous rebel-hero of Leviathan Wakes. Of course, he realises he is being an ass and talks it out, and every good series needs to show the flaws of the good guys. But am I certain I even like Holden at this point? Do I trust him with my crew right now? (yes, mine. Don’t argue.)

Perhaps this is the point. The narrative of this novel is very instrumental in questioning who is trustworthy and where allegiance lies. Caliban’s War begins with what is supposed to be a boring stand off between peacekeepers between Mars and Earth on Ganymede. But quickly it turns into a confused attack by a third party with all sides being destroyed bar one, Bobbie Draper. The bulk of the novel is concerned with figuring out who is responsible and riddling out what has happened.

There are a few subplots of course, a missing child, (again), but this time its a biologist’s daughter who turns out is key to understanding the main plot of the novel. Prax and his devote commitment to finding his daughter dead or alive seems to echo some of the character traits Holden possessed in the first novel but his emotionally unstable skew again off sets his character. There is a lot about this novel that feels unstable and like the calm before the real storm arrives.

Bobbie Draper becomes employed with a politician, Chrisjen Avasarala, an old indian lady with a foul mouth and is struggling to deal with the grief of having her squad mates killed before her. Bobbie is actually one of my favourite characters in the novel, despite the grief she is experiencing she actually seems the most together and I would really like to see more of her.

Amos find’s his feelings. Naomi of course is putting up with Holden’s shit until she tells him to pack it in. And Alex is being is awesome pilot self and actually doesn’t seem to do much this novel but keep everyone out of danger by the width of a hair (as always the ship is riddled with bullets that almost fail to hit something important).

All the while between the heavy politics, the personal problems, and the kidnapped children there is a very ominous growing threat in the background on Venus.

Overall I think this is a strong sequel, but I can understand why some fans would put it down as there are some narrative similarities to Leviathan Wakes and it does take a little time to find itself. The conflict between the crew, particularly from Holden is awkward and frustrating and this really sets the tone for the rest of the narrative for me. But I think Caliban’s War is supposed to be a novel that puts the reader and it’s inhabitants into strife, it’s supposed to make you feel uncomfortable. There is a universe of hell about to hit the atmosphere (so to speak) and this novel has the distinct feel of a larger tension that is building in the series.

Of course I haven’t mentioned the seamless action, the close to the bone imaginative writing, the convincing grasp of science, the unsettling sequences that make you grip your chair because these are all features of the first one. The second is built from the same brick, but there are new significant big ideas being thrown into that house now.

I am very certain that it is time to buckle my seatbelt, the next one is going to be a bumpy ride. These are brilliant books!

61. Witches Abroad 

While enjoying my time road tripping through Uruguay, weeks ago now, I decided to start this little gem. Terry Pratchett has long been a soft spot for me and I don’t intend to grow out of fantasy any time soon, particularly this brand of silliness. Within a few pages I was hooked and I spent a lot of a ferry back to Buenos Aires in stitches and pestering my mate so I could read him snippets. This novel sort of works in two halves, it’s witches on the move and the havoc they cause in their wake, and then a sort of retelling of Cinderella. And this one is of course also about Fairy Godmothers.

Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett

Luckily, or unfortunately, (I haven’t decided) – Magrat Garlick inherits a late fairy godmother’s wand and the job with it. Weirdly, she is also given instructions to keep a princess turned scullery maid in Genua from marrying a Prince. You must remember that in the Discworld every fairytale cliche is about to get turned on it’s head and is about to have it’s ears well and truly boxed.

Where Magrat goes, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg go to, insisting on chaperoning the newly fledged Fairy Godmother (who unfortunately is having trouble producing anything but pumpkins from her wand). Weatherwax and Ogg insist that as they have had longer ‘not knowing’ what they are doing when it comes to Fairy Godmother-ing they are more qualified than Magrat to do Fairy Godmother-ing in the first place. But as we have well come to learn from the Discworld, all witches are stubborn so Magrat has little choice but to let them come along and they have little choice but to let her keep the wand. So off they all go, after an argument or two, flying away on broomsticks.

We spend a while entertaining Nanny Ogg who has brought along her cat Greebo along for the ride (an old, one eyed thing that terrifies everything that comes into his path and isn’t satisfied until he has maimed and raped anything of his choosing) and her attempts at speaking ‘foreign’ while sending postcards home. Granny Weatherwax at one point has to save the day when playing cards to win back all of their possessions which Nanny Ogg has accidentally lost in another game of cards. And of course, like all good holidays, they all get roaring drunk on absinthe, eat the local food, frighten the local children and complain loudly.

We spend a little time chasing well recognised fairytales, fleeting characters who just suddenly decide they want nothing else but to eat red riding hood. And a few other peculiarities that seem to cascade the closer the witches get to Genua. Granny Weatherwax also runs into an unfortunate family member and reveals a little bit of a soft centre beneath those hard outer edges covered in many vests and black lace.

I am quite a fan of Granny Weatherwax. I really enjoyed seeing a little bit of character development, a little bit more than all of those pointy edges and seemingly callous deflections. That outer layer is actually just hiding something a little more tender underneath.

I could just boil this novel down into a talking mirror and witches not letting a young girl kiss a frog. But I could also boil it down into some very entertaining old ladies wrecking utter havoc on the general public. This is a melting pot of a lot of well loved fairy tales turned upside down and stitched together in a new pattern that I believe works very well.

In short I really loved this novel! I would absolutely read this one again and Witches Abroad has shot up to the very top of my list of favourite Discworld novels. And I must add that this is also a very very good novel to take abroad, particularly if you don’t mind laughing hysterically to yourself in public.