As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

October 14, 2012

AMONG OTHERS by Jo Walton, 2012

Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled--and her twin sister dead. Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England–a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Jessica Day George, Young Adult and Middle Grade Author

This book solidly cemented my status as Raving Jo Walton Fan.  I loved TOOTH AND CLAW with a passion that was almost unseemly.  But I hesitated to try another of her books.  What if TOOTH AND CLAW was a one time deal?  And her other books aren’t about talking dragons with Victorian morals wearing tiny hats, which was one of the main selling points for that book, in my opinion.  But I should have realized that what made that book so great wasn’t the dragons or the Victorian morals or the hats, it was the fact that Walton was a writer of amazing skill and delicacy.  Her new book, AMONG OTHERS came to my attention at its release, and I put it on my insanely long to-read shelf on Goodreads, and didn’t think that much about it.  Until AMONG OTHERS started to win all the awards.  Like the Hugo.  And the Nebula.  And be nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic award.  Those are the big guns for fantasy books, and this book was sweeping them up, just like TOOTH AND CLAW did.  So I bumped AMONG OTHERS to the top of my list . . . and I was not disappointed.

This, children, is what a perfect novel looks like.  A fairy story, a coming-of-age story, and a love letter to the classic sci fi and fantasy that Walton grew up on, this book was so gorgeous I could hardly bear to put it down.  I want to embroider whole chunks of it on linen and hang them on the wall.  Through the character of Mor, Walton shares beautiful thoughts about books, libraries, wonder, growing up, childhood, and magic.  It has the perfect mix of characters that you love, and those you love to hate.  And Mor is such a delight: wise in many ways, naive in others, and her enthusiasm for books charmed me and made me feel nostalgic for my early reading days as well. It's absolutely a must-read for anyone who has ever loved reading, especially (but not exclusively) SF/fantasy books.

Market: Adult, older teens
Language: None
Sensuality: Some discussion of sexuality, a makeout session at a party.
Violence: Mild, although Mor has been injured in a car accident that claimed another life.
Mature Scenes: Witchcraft, death, dysfunctional families, class snobbery, bullying, same sex attraction.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I picked this book up from the library, and the writing is INCREDIBLE!!! Thank you for the recommendation, Jessica!