Posts Tagged With: Jo Walton

Among Others by Jo Walton

Title:  Among OthersImage
Author:  Jo Walton
ISBN: 978-1472106537
Publisher:  Corsair

First Published:  Mar 2013 (Paperback)
No .of pages:  416

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
“It doesn’t matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.” Fifteen-year-old Morwenna lives in Wales with her twin sister and a mother who spins dark magic for ill. One day, Mori and her mother fight a powerful, magical battle that kills her sister and leaves Mori crippled. Devastated, Mori flees to her long-lost father in England. Adrift, outcast at boarding school, Mori retreats into the worlds she knows best: her magic and her books. She works a spell to meet kindred souls and continues to devour every fantasy and science fiction novel she can lay her hands on. But danger lurks… She knows her mother is looking for her and that when she finds her, there will be no escape.

The best description of this book is a quote on the back cover from Patrick Rothfuss “Funny, touching and gently magical”.  I couldn’t have summed it up any better. 

Whilst the synopsis tells us of a great tale of good versus evil, of magic and spells and of a long standing magical battle; the book is much more understated.  It is written as a diary from Mori’s point of view where the magic almost takes a back seat to the everyday, general goings on of a teenage girl.  There is a very fine balance between Mori’s coming of age story and the magic and mystery of the world she has grown up with and Jo Walton has achieved it perfectly.  We are with Mori through her struggles with family and school life as well as attempting to negotiate the minefield which is the opposite sex, whilst at the same time and almost as casually, she is attempting to understand the murky and tangled world of magic and spells that has been with her all her life and led to the loss of her sister.

Jo Walton has managed to take a magical story and bring it right back to an everyday setting to which we can all relate.  This book is not a rip-roaring adventure of magical hijinks and escapism.  It is more an everyday world with a magical undercurrent.  The pace is slow but continuous and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

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Among Others by Jo Walton

Among Others was first published in 2011, and has won two awards – and yet reader reviews are varied. Having been sent a copy for review, I can see why. There’s a lot to love about this book, but also some aspects which can be annoying. I started off very unsure, but by the time I put it down, it had worked it’s magic on me, and left a smile on my face. It’s not the easiest to review, so please bear with me if I ramble around…

On it’s surface, Among Others tells the story of Mor, a fifteen year old whose twin sister was killed in the accident which has left Mor with an injured leg. Trying to get away from her mad mother, Mor ends up with her estranged father and her aunts, who send her away to boarding school. There, Mor deals with the grief of losing her sister, whilst accepting who she is, and the limitations she faces from her injuries. She discovers more about her family, and experiences her first relationships. Yes, on it’s surface, this is a coming of age novel, but there are some interesting twists.

Mor and her sister grew up seeing and playing with fairies, and her mother is a witch who tried to harm them. This gives a wonderful layer to the story, but is in no means the focus. This isn’t your traditional fantasy novel, full of other-worldly creatures and magical spells, and it’s quite possible that the fairies exist only in Mor’s mind – deciding which gives an interesting aspect, and readers will all have their own views.

The book itself is in a diary format, and runs over 300 pages in hardback and 400 in paperback. It’s a slow, mellow tale, just as you would expect from this format. To me, the first half was a little too slow, but then I’ve recently been reading some snappy YA novels, so this took some getting used to. There’s also a final aspect, which is both a positive and negative – Mor spends most of her time reading Science Fiction, and many of these books are mentioned and discussed. For fans of SF, I would imagine it would be fun spotting your own favourites, as well as checking out those new to you. For others, though, it becomes a little tedious, like being on the outside of a cliquey group. However, a book about a love of reading is always a bonus!

This is a book best approached with no expectations, and with plenty of time to give. If you allow it, it has much to give back.

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