Among Others by Jo Walton

among-others-jo-walton-coverMorwenna “Mori” Phelps is a child who grew up in Wales but finds herself displaced in an upper class, English boarding school when she runs away from her mother after a terrible accident which claimed not only her twin sister, but left her crippled. It was not just any accident, though – she and her sister had confronted their mother when she tried to use magic to an evil end.

We pick up after Mori has fled, finding a home again in England with the father who abandoned her and her sister. England is not Wales and the boarding school to which her father sends her only underlines this disconnect. For one, what few faeries there are, are shy and quiet; she and her sister used to converse at length with the Welsh faeries. Mori doesn’t understand the other girls’ obsession with social class and standing, nor their disregard for reading and magic. She is quite alone.

Except, not for long. Because Mori does what comes naturally, and performs magic which will give her a circle of friends with whom she has something in common. And, lo and behold, almost instantaneously a sci-fi book club pops out of the woodwork, providing her with not only a much-needed safe space, but much-needed friends.

Among Others is a character journey more than anything else. There is a plot – girl goes to boarding school, girl is alienated, girl finds friends, confidence in herself, confidence to finally confront her mother – but it is not the star and the events of the novel are not bent to the will of the plot, but to the will of the character. Mori is beautifully realistic, and I’ve already read a number of reviews where the reviewer easily saw themselves in her. I, too, can add myself to that list. Walton has found a way to weave in the many and myriad of books Mori reads, which not only help to add to her character, but to add to our understanding of our motives. Weren’t we, too, somewhat confused by social mores concerning class and sexuality, among other things, having been raised upon the worlds and cultures found in sci-fi/fantasy?

In short: absolutely brill.

Among Others at Goodreads.

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Filed under faeries, jo walton, literary fantasy, welsh fantasy

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