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Among Others

by Jo Walton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,6302334,247 (3.97)2 / 470
Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, 15-year old 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 closests 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.… (more)
  1. 90
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (norabelle414)
    norabelle414: A young, bookish kid in 1970s England gets tangled up in magical and scary events larger than they are.
  2. 40
    Little, Big by John Crowley (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Similar style and approach to the world of faerie
  3. 30
    The Child That Books Built by Francis Spufford (anglemark)
    anglemark: Both books are about how reading shaped a child, although they are not both viewing it exactly the same way.
  4. 20
    Shadows by Robin McKinley (bibliovermis)
  5. 53
    The Magicians by Lev Grossman (Jannes)
    Jannes: Both are fantasy or fantasy-sih books about fantasy readers and how the stories you read hape you and affect your sense of the world.
  6. 10
    Eggshells by Caitriona Lally (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Both are realistic novels in which the worlds of magic and fairy may be real and/or function as coping mechanisms for the narrators. Beautiful PTSD novels.
  7. 10
    Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Both works have a hint of Faerie, without being clear whether it's real or not. Also bad parents and their struggling offspring.
  8. 10
    The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip (Herenya)
    Herenya: Both stories have a heroine dealing with grief and the sometimes-loneliness of being 15.
  9. 11
    The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Recovering from tragedy, holding to a moral centre.
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» See also 470 mentions

English (232)  French (1)  All languages (233)
Showing 1-5 of 232 (next | show all)
Sometimes you find the exact right book, precisely when you need it. ( )
  shmerica | Dec 6, 2021 |
I loved this epistolary novel about a teenage girl who confronts loss, loneliness, and fear, mostly through SF and Fantasy, but also some Faeries and some magic. This read to me like a Ghibli movie, the quiet parts were just as important and interesting as the adventure parts. I loved it. ( )
  quickmind | Nov 3, 2021 |
Even without being in the inner circle of Mori's karass and knowing all her favorite sci fi and fantasy novels, I still felt close to her and intrigued by her relationship with the fairies. Tui Sutherland recommended this book, and I can see why. I like Mori's stance on pierced ears. ( )
  CMOBrien | Oct 18, 2021 |
People tell you to write what you know, but I've found that writing what you know is much harder than making it up. It's easier to research a historical period than your own life, and it's much easier to deal with things that have a little less emotional weight and where you have a little more detachment. It's terrible advice! So this is why you'll find there's no such place as the Welsh valleys, no coal under them, and no red buses running up and down them; there never was such a year as 1979, no such age as fifteen, and no such planet as Earth. The fairies are real, though.
-Jo Walton

Man, I hate it when this happens. Picked this up at the library because it was there. The writing is as phenomenal as you've heard if you follow SFF in general. The family relationships are quite remarkable. The narrator is not a nice girl. The love letter to SFF is really, deeply endearing. (Also, having missed some of the books mentioned is no detriment to the accessibility; I feared it would be, as I actively avoided the science fiction side of SFF when I was younger.) I loved the magical realism elements, the suggestions that there is always more to this story than Mor is telling us. (The book manages to play the 'Can we trust our narrator?' game without ruining the reader's rapport with the story.) The ache of Mor's loss from the very beginning is palpable and rings beautifully through the whole tale. I really liked the 'I saved the world. Now what?' perspective. This is a story about learning to live after, when happily and ever may be nowhere in the picture. The ending is nigh perfect.

So, three stars? I'm not sure what exactly went wrong here. The journal form does introduce quite a bit of emotional distance in the story. (That doesn't normally bother me; I love epistolary works.) I do hate school stories, but this did an admirable job of not fixating on the teen vs. teen dramas; it moved in a balanced fashion among Mor's school troubles, her broken family, her independent explorations, and the past. I also hate teen romance, and the romantic interest here was boring, trite, and recycled, which made it stick out like a sore thumb in such a remarkably original work, especially coming late in the story. But it is really just one more exploration for Mor and a natural progression of her thinking on the matter, and probably is not True Love. It doesn't override her voice, which is nice in YA.. I was reading it a little bit rushed and a lot tired, so that may be it. Overall though, I think it is actually the fantasy element that is bothering me. Not the details of it; those were also brilliant. The overarching battle against Liz somehow left something wanting. I am trying to ponder what that is, exactly.

I do believe I will be back to this one soonish. I'd like to read it at a more leisurely pace next time. Having had more sleep. Perhaps after I've spent some time with this nice Listopia. I definitely recommend anyone thinking about it give this a try. And I will absolutely be reading from the rest of Walton's back list. This woman has talent.

ETA: Original review date 2/22/16 ( )
  amyotheramy | May 11, 2021 |
Really well thought out system of questioning, trap scenarios, and social interaction. Very much enjoyed it. Very much not a style of book I usually like - journal format almost always drives me nuts - but this author proved it can be done well and unobtrusively. Much fun. ( )
  wetdryvac | Mar 2, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 232 (next | show all)
As [Mori] tries to come to terms with her sister’s death through both books and fairy magic, the novel assumes true emotional resonance.
 
There are really two points where the success of the novel as what it is make it fail to connect with me. The first has to do with the books. It's written in the form of a diary, and the form and voice are spot-on. But part of getting the diary form right is that it doesn't provide much in the way of information about the many books that Mori reads in the course of the novel-- you wouldn't expect a teenager with a lot on her mind to do a detailed plot summary of everything she read, after all.

This is no big deal as long as you recognize the references to authors and titles. But if you don't-- and there are a lot of books mentioned that I know about but either haven't read or do not recall fondly-- a lot of significance is lost. The titles sort of flash by as blank spots in the narrative, a kind of "This Cultural Reference Intentionally Left Blank" effect that ends up being a little off-putting.
 
This isn't a traditional fantasy, by any means. But it's a smart, heartfelt novel, with a strong, likable narrator, and many touchstones in terms of other books that will resonate for us, depending on how we felt/feel about those books.

It has also jumped right into my short list of favorite books ever, and it's one that I plan to reread more than once.
 
But, just as the magic, it's a peculiar, unique book. I've read most of Walton's fiction. I like this best, but in some ways it's the least structurally certain of her works; I think the magic that's so subtle it's deniable at the start of the book fails to maintain that quirky quality at its end—and I understand why, but still found it jarring.

Regardless, there's a deep beauty to this book that feels so entirely real I'm grateful for its existence, for the fact that I could read it, and for the way it now graces my own internal library.
 
Among Others is many things – a fully realized boarding-school tale, a literary memoir, a touching yet unsentimental portrait of a troubled family – but there’s something particularly appealing about a fantasy which not only celebrates the joy of reading, but in which the heroine must face the forces of doom not in order to return yet another ring to some mountain, but to plan a trip to the 1980 Glasgow Eastercon. That’s the sort of book you can love.
added by Passer_Invenit | editLocus, Gary Wolfe (Jan 24, 2011)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jo Waltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen Hayden, PatrickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riffel, HannesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
s.BENešCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vojnar, KamilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Folio SF (549)
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Epigraph
Er'perrhene.

—Ursula Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

What one piece of advice would you give to yourself at what younger age?

Any time between 10 and 25:

It's going to improve. Honest. There really are people out there that you will like and who will like you.

—Farah Mendelsohn, LiveJournal, 23rd May 2008
Dedication
This is for all the libraries in the world, and all the librarians who sit there day after day lending books to people.
First words
The Phurnacite factory in Abercwmboi killed all the trees for two miles around. We'd measured it on the mileometer.
Quotations
It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.
[On Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd]: He makes things happen neatly, and sometimes they're horrible things, but they're always very pat. I hate that. He could have learned a lot from Silverberg and Delany.
She was looking at a record called 'Anarchy in the U.K.' by a group called the Sex Pistols. It was a very ugly cover, but I am quite interested in anarchism because of 'The Dispossessed'.
Interlibrary loans are a wonder of the world and a glory of civilization.
Libraries really are wonderful. They're better than bookshops, even. I mean bookshops make a profit on selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books quietly out of the goodness of their hearts.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, 15-year old 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 closests 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.

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Book description
Startling, unusual, and irresistibly readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and science fiction, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

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 the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. When her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled — and her twin sister dead.

Fleeing to a father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England — a place all but devoid of true magic. There, she is 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...

Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonatham Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude, this is a stunning new novel by an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers such as Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. LeGuin.

See http://papersky.livejournal.com/37282... for the moment of the book's genesis.
Haiku summary
The battle's over
Books keep you sane living in
Ruins with fairies.

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