Among Others by Jo Walton

I’m not quite sure how this particular novel came to me, but it was recent and it was much needed. I had just finished up some lovely reads suggested to me by a co-worker who is a passionate lover of books with good taste. When I was done with her few recs, I went back into a slight reading slump (I had previously fell victim to a tiresome acute slump in the latter part of 2015…ugh.). I needed something escapist and magical, and although Among Others takes place in reality the tinges of magical realism were so pleasurable.

among others

“You can never be sure where you are with magic.”

I must say that I am a true sucker for novels written in epistles (Dracula, Dracula, Dracula), and Among Others is told entirely in diary entries by 15-year-old Morwena Phelps, or just abbreviated Mor, during the school year of 1979-1980.

Mor’s leg is crippled and she walks with the aid of a cane. This is all the result of some dastardly situation with her mad mother six months prior that left her mom shoved off to an institution and the death of her twin sister who also went by the nickname Mor.

She’s wrenched from her home in Wales where her family and the faeries live to be packed off first to a children’s home and then to her father and his sisters in England, who she’s never met. The controlling and wealthy sisters think it’s best to send Mor to a boarding school (of course the school leaves something to be desired, but she soon find solace in all of the books–including her father’s love of sci-fi and fantasy–and a group of new friends of fellow readers and librarians.

Through Mor’s diary, moments are told quite easily, but there is always a sense that something else–especially, the previous six months with her mad witch mother and twin sister–is not quite exactly as it seems. England is not nearly as magical as Wales with its landscape scattered with faeries of all sorts.

It’s really the strong, imaginative writing of the author Jo Walton that allows for the magical realism to pleasurably flow so easily. It was a snap to get enjoyably lost in Mor’s world even if it was pretty much our world. It is Mor’s imagination that makes the reality magical.

Has anyone else read this novel? When looking up info afterward, I saw that it was the Winner of the 2011 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the Winner of the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

I’m onto another Jo Walton novel called My Real Children, which so far is excellent, but at times heartbreaking and devastating. Lately, I’m trying to read only one book at a time so I can be totally involved, but I might need something to cut the tragic parts of the novel. It is unbelievable and I can’t wait to see how it ends, but I find I need a breather because of some of the events happening to the main character.

Any other escapist, magical books to recommend? My Goodreads TBR list is mightily growing.

 

 

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6 comments

  1. One of my trustiest books for pulling myself out of a reading slump is Robin McKinley’s book Sunshine. Have you read that? It’s sort of dark and gruesome in spots (I freely admit), but I find it somehow immensely comforting. If you like vampire stories.

    Or if not that, then I recommend Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys series. It’s a set of four YA books with magic in them, and Welsh kings, so I think they would make a good chaser to Among Others. The fourth one’s due out in April — good time to jump on the bandwagon!

    1. It’s perfect timing that you mention Robin McKinley because I was just thinking about one of her fantasy novels that I read as a child. We were given the option between that and Where the Red Fern Grows and most children picked the latter, which I don’t understand beyond the fact that the page count is shorter (WTRFG remains unread but looks incredibly dull to me). I’ve added Sunshine to my reading list, so if I get into another slump, I’ll know where to go next.

      I know nothing of Maggie Stiefvater but I’ll surely do some internet sleuthing.

      Thanks!

  2. Small world! Among Others is on my Goodreads “to read” list.

    I am cheating by reading others’ reactions before I decide to invest in a paper copy over an ebook version.

    I have been enjoying Jo Walton’s Thessaly series, beginning with The Just City then Philosopher Kings. Not sure how I got turned on to these but was likely due to Goodreads’ algorithms IRT books I have already read. That’s okay with me. If you like Philosophy, Mythology, Science Fiction, robots and time travel stories… this series is for you.

    1. I have The Just City on my Goodreads list and am currently reading My Real Children, which is excellent but has some difficult and unhappy plot elements, so it’s taking me a little longer to read.

      I really liked Among Others– I had an ebook copy checked out from the library, but the cover sure is pretty (I’m definitely a sucker for a nice design).

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