In the seventh chapter of A Hat Full of Sky, I refuse to forgive any of you for this. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For extensive talk of bullying, abuse, and death
I am upset.
Mrs. Earwig (pronounced Ah-Wij)
I feel like it’s kind of damning all by itself that Mrs. Earwig doesn’t truly suspect that there’s something wrong with Tiffany. To me, it speaks volumes to where her mind is at. I’m feeling much more confident in my assertion that Mrs. Earwig and her pupils are obsessed with image over function. They have an interest in presenting themselves a specific way, and anyone who doesn’t conform to Earwig’s opinions is met with suspicion. Like, she judges Tiffany for wearing green. THAT’S IT. That is the only thing worthy of suspicion! The color of clothing! But this was the part that made me realize just how ridiculous Mrs. Earwig really was:
Tiffany looked around—
—the hiver looked around—
—and thought: I’ve got to be the strongest. When I am strongest, I shall be safe. That one is week. She thinks you can buy magic.
WELL, THERE WE GO. And you can see how this manifests later once we learn about the magic shop, because… well, I’ll get there. Because… look, I’m conflicted. I love few things more than bullies and abusers getting their comeuppance, and it’s probably not at all surprising that someone like me would enjoy stories like that. So, yes, I admit I kinda wanted to see if Annagramma would get a little taste of her own medicince! That being said, I also can’t deny that what does transpire made me deeply, deeply uncomfortable. This isn’t how I wanted it to happen. I know that part of the reason this is so frustrating is because Tiffany isn’t the one getting closure. And as far as I can tell, Annagramma doesn’t actually learn that her behavior is terrible! She just adapts to the situation and decides to be “friends” with Tiffany because Tiffany appears to have power. It’s advantageous for her to keep Tiffany in her life! (Which is ironic, since the hiver is literally doing the same with Annagramma in order to amass allies for itself.)
Oh god, it all gets so much worse, y’all.
The Matter of Brian
HI, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS BODY HORROR NIGHTMARE??!?!?!?! Y’all, the chapter title is a goddamn pun, and it’s a terrifying one. I truly think this is one of the most upsetting sequences in the entirety of the Discworld series, and there are so many reasons why I feel that way. Part of it is because this hiver is controlling Tiffany’s body, and the imagery of that is creepy enough all by itself. An eleven-year-old girl is the one enacting so much violence and terror on the world around them. Within this, though, there is an exposure of the fraudulent magical beliefs that Mrs. Earwig, ZakZak, Annagramma, and many others hold. Which I suspect that, deep down, Tiffany is learning about? Maybe not—she’s just a little bit occupied for the moment. Regardless, I’m certainly learning about this! ZakZak peddles magic and magical wares to people, knowing full well that all of it is bullshit. On some level, do his customers know it, too? I could understand Annagramma believing it all; she’s young. But Mrs. Earwig? Does she purchase things from him? Does she believe they work?
Anyway, it doesn’t take long for Hiver Tiffany to wreak her havoc upon ZakZak’s shop, and it is so unnerving to me that one of the things the hiver does is toy with a person’s perception of reality. Twice in this chapter, Hiver Tiffany causes significant damage with magic, then immediately “fixes” whatever was broken, making it appear like it was never broken in the first place. It’s a bold display that is clearly meant to show the extent of the hiver’s abilities inside Tiffany. At any moment, she can tear you apart, only to put you back together on her whims. Which is a understated way of referring to the matter of Brian, ZakZak’s “security” “wizard” who threatens unruly and rude patrons with his magical abilities. Of which he has none, mind you, because he’s not a wizard by any stretch of the imagination. So when ZakZak tries to eject Tiffany after Hiver Tiffany is rude to him, it… it doesn’t go well. There’s no way to just summarize this because it’s an experience. A waking nightmare. So wrong and gory and YET IT ALL HAPPENED.
“Ha! That’s just a figure of speech!” snapped ZakZak. “I’d like to see you turn someone into a frog!”
“Wish granted,” said Tiffany, and waved the wand.
So, not that bad in the grand scheme of things, right? It definitely felt like a powerful demonstration of magic and a bit of a shocker, but it’s not exactly unheard of in a fantasy universe, right?
Y’all, this isn’t even the worst thing in this fucking chapter:
ZakZak didn’t look at the frog. He was looking at the thing that went gloop, gloop. It was like a large pink balloon full of water, quite pretty really, wobbling gently against the ceiling.
“You’ve killed him!” he mumbled.
“What? Oh, no. That’s just the stuff he doesn’t need right now. It’s sort of… spare Brian.”
Who hurt you, Terry Pratchett? Why are you doing this to me??? WHO ALLOWED THIS?!?!?! I don’t even have anything smart to say about this because I’m still disturbed. As horrible as Annagramma has been, I can’t even say I enjoyed watching her scurry away from Hiver Tiffany, begging Hiver Tiffany not to do the same to her. The whole thing is just… it’s so, so much further than I thought Pratchett would take this, AND IT’S STILL NOT THE FURTHEST THING.
At least there’s one major sign of hope in this book: Hiver Tiffany’s use of such powerful magic caused ripples that woke Granny from a long period of Borrowing, and SHE’S GONNA GET INVOLVED. Oh my god, I CAN’T WAIT. What’s fascinating about this is that I don’t know who will affect the ending of this book more: Tiffany, the Nac Mac Feegles, or Granny Weatherwax. It’s like a big race to a solution! That being said, I feel like Tiffany’s struggle is the most important of them. She has to consistently maintain her identity and her sense of self before the hiver pushes her out entirely. That’s the hardest part of all of this.
OF COURSE THEY DON’T HAVE AN ACTUAL PLAN. It’s the Nac Mac Feegle! This is what they do: they show up and they… fight? Everything and anything? Lots of stealing, too. And drinking! And do they even need to do anything else? Except this is where Pratchett reveals that despite them not having a PLN, they do have an ability no one else does: they can get inside Tiffany’s head through her dreams. Now, I don’t know if Hiver Tiffany even needs to sleep. Eventually, right? Tiffany’s body is still human, and I don’t feel like the hiver can get around that. But then… what? Can they help her once they’re on the inside? And how? Rob says there is a possibility of keeping Tiffany’s real self alive:
“If we can track her doon,” said the gonnagle. “If we can find the wee bitty bit o’ her that’s still her. She’s a bonny fighter when she’s roused. Ye see, mistress, a mind’s like a world itself. She’ll be hidin’ in it somewhere, lookin’ oout through her own eyes, listenin’ wi’ her own ears, tryin’ to make people hear, tryin’ no’ to let yon beast find her… and it’ll be hunting her all the time, trying tae break her doon…”
I’ve definitely seen some of this already! So, she’s still fighting, and it’s like the Nac Mac Feegle can be support soldiers in her mind, right? Oh god, what does her mind look like? I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THIS.
I’ve commented multiple times at this point at how often this book has escalated and it’s all happening sooner than I anticipated. That’s all child’s play compared to what happens here. I had not figured out that Hiver Tiffany had stolen money from Mr. Weavall, but it’s the final straw for Miss Level, who finally decides to confront the hiver. At worst, I assumed that Hiver Tiffany would escape again and just not come back to Miss Level’s. She didn’t need her anymore, right? Why stick around?
(I HATE TYPING THAT BECAUSE IT IS TRUE THAT HIVER TIFFANY DIDN’T NEED MISS LEVEL AT ALL AND I AM SO UPSET)
And for a moment, there was a flash of hope. Tiffany tricked the hiver into Borrowing, allowing Tiffany to appear fully in her body, only for the hiver to lash out, and—
The hiver turned.
The hiver struck.
The hiver… killed.
I know that Miss Level is not a twin, and yet I can’t ignore how much this stings as a twin. Miss Level has always had another version of herself nearby, and this is an epic tragedy. How? How is Miss Level supposed to live with only one body?
I AM TRULY FUCKING UPSET.
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