I have already explained how much I enjoy Tiffany Aching books. Until I decided to re-read it as a "seasonal read", Wintersmith it wasn't one of my favourite Discworld witch books. However, reading it at Christmas time, with memories of the last two snowy winters still fresh, has made me reconsider this point of view.
Tiffany Aching is now nearly thirteen years old. She is living with the 113-year-old Miss Treason, learning witchcraft from her. Miss Treason is different from the very diligent Miss Level, who was Tiffany's teacher in A Hat Full of Sky, who demonstrated a Discworld witch's role- a combination of vet, social worker and district nurse. Miss Treason, by view of her great age and the remoteness of her steading (area a witch is responsible for) is all those things, but also has a role in maintaining law and order and mediating disputes. In order to do this, Tiffany learns, she relies a great deal on "boffo" (show business) as much as on her skill.
Tiffany is a good apprentice to Miss Treason, but she is still a young girl. She and Miss Treason fly into the woods (Miss Treason seeing through Tiffany's eyes since her own no longer work) to the Dark Morris (performed without music to bring in Winter) she joins in, despite being told not to. By doing this, she attracts the attention of the Wintersmith, the Elemental personifying winter. He confuses Tiffany with the personification of summer, the Summer Lady- they only ever meet at the dance, and of course can never be together. His obsession with Tiffany has terrible consequences, as he goes to greater and greater extremes to impress her. Finally, when the snow and ice threaten the Downlands and Tiffany's family's sheep, she knows that she must confront him. With the help of the Nac Mac Feegles (small, blue, vaguely Scottish pictsies renowned for their fighting and drinking skills) and Roland, son of the baron local to the Aching family farm, she must return the seasons to their natural places.