There are two rules about fairy godmothers in Discworld. First, they come in pairs, and second, when one dies, another has to come along and replace her. Desiderata Hollow was a good godmother, but a terrible planner. When DEATH finally showed up, she had to pick a successor and skip the necessary training, So while the two elder witches head for Desiderata’s cottage to search for the wand, Magrat gets a package at home (where she is practicing New Age self-defense) and finds that she is now the only wet hen who can turn absolutely anything into a pumpkin.
Worse, when Gytha Ogg and Esme Weatherwax recover from this shock they discover that Magrat has a pressing assignment. She must travel to Genua (a city far, far away in another place entirely) and keep a young woman from kissing a frog. And so, the three most unlikely (and irascible) travelers set off for foreign parts, victimizing vampires, werewolves and countless innkeepers along the way. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that Nanny Ogg brought along Greebo the (oversexed) cat along for company. Of course, that is exactly the kind of cat Nanny would keep.
Leaving the countryside in shambles, the three ride their broomsticks into Genua and set about the arduous task of rescuing Emberella. You will like Genua: it is a combination New Orleans, Port au Prince, and Hong Kong. The food is wonderful. Voodoo witches ride their huts through the swamp, stories always come true, and everyone is either happy or dying in the effort. And the other godmother lives there. Book a flight now on the Trans Witch Airlines and you will arrive for the Fat Lunchtime Festival.
Once again Terry Pratchett has written a tour de force of slapstick, sarcasm, and pure vaudeville. Witches Abroad is an opportunity to make fun of everything from world travelers to fairy tales, and no one escapes unscathed. Granny Weatherwax is one of my favorite Discworld characters, combining an acid tongue with Socratic wisdom- tough as nails and proud of it. She and Nanny Ogg simply shine. Magrat would too, of hens could shine. And even she has a grand moment or two. This is the best of the Discworld witch tales, if not one of Pratchett’s best overall.