Book Review: Among Others by Jo Walton

Among Others by Jo WaltonThis book was a giveaway from Sarah at Book Worm Blues. The book sounded interesting so I entered and won. And what a beautiful book! A hardback with beautiful font, little squiggles to decorate the chapter (entry per day) headings and just very pleasant to read (physically, if you see what I mean).

Among Others: What it is About

First we find the main character, Morwenna, and her twin sister make a factory shut down because of some magic they carry out as instructed by their fairy friends.

Four years later, it’s 1979, 14-year old Mori is being sent to boarding school by her father and his sisters, who all live together. Her twin sister is out of the picture (it takes a little while before we know what happened) and Mori has been placed with her estranged father by social services as she somehow can’t live with her mother anymore.

Soon the reader realises Mori is afraid of her mother, and especially of the magical powers she has.

As she has a limp (and a walking stick) as well as a Welsh accent, the children at the posh English boarding school ignore her or call her names. Mori doesn’t mind too much, she’s a reader: she loves fantasy and science fiction novels, and is excited to find out that her father also enjoys these.

Through her love of books she eventually makes some new friends and finds a way to deal with her mother.

The book is written as a diary with (almost) daily entries for about 6 months from the moment Mori starts at her new school school.

Among Others: What I thought

This book is about magic, in quite a subtle way initially, but later it becomes more important. It never becomes the focus of the story, until we’re nearing the end.

No, I’m not one for fairies normally, but in this book, they didn’t take center place. In fact, I was able to maintain for many pages that Mori was just making them up, seeing things that weren’t really there.

I enjoyed the story, although I did think that nothing much happened for a long time. Still, it didn’t bore me. Just. It almost did, but then the book had a little twist and the story meandered on in a more interesting way.

A lot of books were mentioned: most were fantasy and SF from the 1970s and 1980s. I recognised quite a few author names and there were some books that I’d read too. I found it fun, but a bit unnecessary to keep on reading about yet another book, and another book, that Mori was raving/talking/arguing about.

I don’t think I’d call this a YA book. Just because the main character is 14/15 years old doesn’t make it YA. The writing is good and adult readers will enjoy reading between the lines to understand things that Mori herself didn’t maybe see that way.

Other than that it was a bit slow, with not a great deal happening, this was a satisfying read.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book: won from Sarah at Book Worm Blues

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 302

First published: 2011 (January)

Genre: speculative fiction, magic

I enjoyed this book. If you read it and absolutely loved it, consider nominating this book for the Independent Literary Awards under Speculative Fiction. Any book blogger can nominate titles! (nominations open September – December)

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About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

22 Responses to Book Review: Among Others by Jo Walton

  1. Misha says:

    This book sort of reminds me of Don’t Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon. I have Among Others on my TBR, so I am glad to see a positive review. I like that there is a bit of magical element in it.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Misha, I didn’t read Don’t Breathe a Word so I can’t say how it compares. The magical element isn’t too strong, but just enough to make it a little different.

  2. parrish says:

    Doesn’t seem to be of interest to me, as a freebie I’d have given it a go but as a paid for book…..

  3. Cindy says:

    The fairies put me off a bit …

  4. Tes says:

    I am a recent fan of mysterious, fantasy and magical stories. Though I have never read something with fairies but this sounds interesting 🙂

  5. Nadine Nys says:

    Most of the time I love books with a magical element, perhaps I should give this one a try!

  6. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one so much. At first I thought, I must read this, then I read on and you referenced magic/fairies. I have read a few books with fairies recently, something I don’t connect with so I will probably pass.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Mari, I’m not normally reading about fairies but in this case, they were fine- they fitted in the story and I didn’t mind them at all.It all depends on how a story is built up, of course.

  7. I don’t read very much speculative fiction either, but this sounds like a very interesting read!

  8. Leslie says:

    At first I passed on this one because I thought it was fantasy, but I’ve seen more than a few glowing reviews and it does sound like I might enjoy it.

  9. Fine review. You made me so interested I checked Amazon immediately, but I just won´t pay $ 16 for an ebook so I´ll wait and see what happens to the price later 😉 (Or try to find a used copy).

    • Leeswammes says:

      The hardback is a beauty, Dorte, but I can understand you wouldn’t want to pay that much for an ebook. I may be willing to put this book in an (European, otherwise postage too high) giveaway… 😉

  10. Pingback: Capricious Reader Weekly | Capricious Reader

  11. Uniflame says:

    I think I already added this to me -to read- list but this review made me even more curious 🙂

  12. I think this one dropped out of YA status when she wanted to take relationship advice from Heinlein. Not such a good idea. I have to agree that the endless parade of books was interesting, but also felt superfluous at times. And I don’t know ANYONE who can read Lord of the Rings in three days…

  13. This sounds like one that I should check out … I’m OK with a bit slow, and I think the characters and their interplay would definitely appeal.

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