Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett
I was really reminded, listening to the 3rd in the Tiffany Aching sub-series of Discworld, just how good Terry Pratchett's female characters are. In WINTERSMITH it's Tiffany Aching, a 13 year old girl, witch, slayer of demons, friend of the Wee Free Men and battler of the Wintersmith himself.
The Wintersmith takes male form when smitten by Tiffany, but really he is winter itself, snow, gales and ice, with a crush that makes him want to keep her in his gleaming frozen world forever. Tiffany, being 13 is becoming aware of just how tedious boys can be, but this "boy", is something else again. She's going to need all her friends, including the indomitable and unshockable Granny Weatherwax to defeat him - creating the legend of Tiffany Aching along the way.
Along the way there are is the death of witches and the ascendancy of the decidedly unworthy, there's politics and game playing, and there are, as always, the Wee Free Men who aren't going to stop helping their Hag no matter how much she objects (to the name and the form of help). Needless to say a Witches novel with the focus on Tiffany, a wonderful character - full of self doubt and determination, strong will and sense beyond her years, but absolutely believable with it.
At nine, Tiffany Aching defeated the cruel Queen of Fairyland. At 11, she banished an ancient body-stealing evil. At 13, Tiffany faces a new challenge: a boy. And boys can be a bit of a problem when you're 13.
But the Wintersmith isn't exactly a boy. He is winter itself: snow, gales, icicles, all of it. When he has a crush on Tiffany, he may make her roses of ice, but his nature is blizzards and avalanches. And he wants Tiffany to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. Forever.
Tiffany will need all her cunning to make it to spring. She'll also need her friends, from junior witches to the legendary Granny Weatherwax. Tiffany will need the Wee Free Men, too! She'll have the help of the bravest, toughest, smelliest pixies ever to be banished from Fairyland - whether she wants it or not. It's going to be a cold, cold season, because if Tiffany doesn't survive until spring...spring won't come.