I used to buy every Discworld novel as Terry released them, having originally found the series in 1990 via Eric. This is my ‘nth’ re-read of Witches Abroad, part of my favourite series set on Discworld and featuring my favourite characters: Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. I spend more and more time at my desk these days, doing everything from preparing the family taxes to working on this blog. Because of this, my workspace is constantly changing. Holding the clutter at bay is challenging, so I prefer to keep nearby only a few quality items that serve multiple purposes over a stockpile of things I might never need.
I read this one first on the day of publication in 1991. It was my favourite Discworld novel until the arrival of Lords and Ladies (just one year later). Terry Pratchett’s enthusiasm for his characters just explodes in this story of fairy tales and enchantment. It also includes so much commentary on a multitude of various subjects including voodoo, Cinderella, the curse of being a fairy godmother (😁) and even the legend of enchanted mirrors and how their magic works, reflecting your soul to infinity…and beyond. This one really does reward rereading – I even discovered new angles on the tenth sitting!
The beauty of this particular novel is that it really squeezes in some fantastic references as the witches even progress through a sort of small town Transylvania before they reach their destination and ultimate confrontation with the dreaded godmother Lilly. The Dracula inspired section always makes me think of the late, great Irish comedian Dave Allen, who observed wonderfully that the travellers in the mountains ALWAYS go directly to the one place they’ve been told to avoid. This says such an awful lot about human nature and the fact that we never want to do things until we’re told we can’t do them.
When I first heard about the lockdown, I remember thinking ‘that isn’t likely to make a difference to me, as I never want to go out anyway’. However, as soon as it becomes mandatory to stay inside, I get this wild itch to disobey….