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#69 Among Others by Jo Walton

Mori is an awkward teenage girl living in Wales in the 1970s. She spends much of her time reading science fiction and fantasy AmongOthersbook, but her own life is not without it's fantastic elements. She regularly communes with the local fairy population and has even performed a few works of magic herself. But Mori also knows about the dark side of magic. She remembers the dark powers that her mother embraced, resulting in the death of Mori's twin sister. Now Mori has been sent to be raised by her estranged father, and live in a boarding school where her classmates tease her. Again she turns to reading to escape, but it may be through her love of literature that she learns to connect with others gain.

Among Others is the most recent winner of the Nebula Award, and it didn't take me long to understand what the fuss was all about. Among Others an atypical fantasy book, a story about what happens after the evil overlord is pushed back and our hero must live with the results. Here, magic and fantastical events are mostly pushed to the background, and the story turns to the daily life and reflections of a teenage girl who loves to read. It ended up reminding me a lot of another novel I've read, Tam Lin by Pamela Dean, and like Tam Lin I can see why this book could be rather divisive.

Although some readers may find themselves put off by the sedate pace, and emphasis or realism over fantasy (it is, after all, not what readers typically look for while picking up a fantasy book), I found myself pulled in by the character of Mori. Having once been a teenage girl who escaped from the at times overwhelming world through fiction, I could relate very well to Mori as a character, and I found her voice to be, at times, quite lovely. I also really enjoyed the emphasis the novel has on the (often complex) relationships that we find ourselves in with our family, friends, and others (perhaps the true meaning of the title Among Others?). That the novel possesses lengthily explanations of Mori's family tree seems a little strange a first, but the space she dedicates her her journal to documenting her family only emphasizes the importance they hold in her life. The novel also looks beyond family relationships to include those with her classmates, friends she meets through a local book club, and eventually romance. Much like real life, these relationships vary from very warm, to cold and award, to antagonistic.

Among Others is a lovely character focused book where fantasy takes back seat to the daily life of Mori, the books she loves, and the people she interacts with. Although I found the ending to be a little anti-climatic, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to others looking for a more gently paced fantasy novel.

Rating: four and a half stars
Length: 302 pages
Source: Lewiston Public Library
Other books I've read by this author: Farthing

Next I will be reviewing Batwoman, Vol 1: Hydrology by JH Williams and Hayden Blackman and Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens by Jane Dunn

xposted to temporaryworldsbookish, and goodreads

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