A Discworld Novel. Author: Terry Pratchett.
Once upon a time there was a fairy godmother named Desiderata who had a good heart, a wise head, and poor planning skills—which unforunately left the Princess Emberella in the care of her other (not quite so good and wise) godmother when DEATH came for Desiderata. So now it’s up to Magrat Garlick, Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg to hop on broomsticks and make for far-distant Genua to ensure the servant girl doesn’t marry the Prince. But the road to Genua is bumpy, and along the way the trio of witches encounters the occasional vampire, werewolf, and falling house (well this is a fairy tale, after all). The trouble really begins once these reluctant foster-godmothers arrive in Genua and must outwit their power-hungry counterpart who’ll stop at nothing to achieve a proper “happy ending”—even if it means destroying a kingdom. (Goodreads summary.)
Usually, the melting-pot style retellings that try to cram as many fairytale references into one story as possible are just annoying. They’re scattered and random, and I don’t like the stories being reduced to a passing paragraph or two around the protagonist as he/she continues on his/her way. Witches Abroad had none of these problems. Each story was seen as such, a story repeating itself, part of the central theme. This dual theme revolved around stories and their impact on reality; and mirrors, with multiple old superstitions about them. I’ve always been interested by mirrors figuring into magic, and this tale put a new spin on an old superstition. I was intrigued.
Then there were the characters. Three old witches who have no idea how to be fairy godmothers and can barely control the one wand between the three of them, who can beat a cardshark at his own game but can pass through a vampire’s holdings without ever noticing the thick signs; what is there not to love?
Sexual content: Girl refuses to marry king – “Now she says she refuses to be a sex object.” “I’m proud to say I don’t know what a sex object is.” In describing a cat the narrative says “Greebo, as a matter of feline pride, would attempt to fight or rape absolutely anything.” Seven instances of innuendo.
Language: 12 d***, 11 bloody, 2 hell, 1 derogatory term
Violence: Character knocks out a wolf with a blow to the head. Man cuts a wolf’s head off. Executioner cuts a thief’s head off.