Among Others by Jo Walton, is a book long on promise, but short on delivery. Shortlisted for the Hugo and receiving high praise, perhaps left me with expectations too high.
The basic premise is excellent. 70’s schoolgirl who has family issues, highlighted by a crappy mother (who doesn’t) AND talks to fairies. We’re left waiting fo the magic and the story arc to mix in a fairly violent way.
OH how we wish we had magic to help solve our daily issues, yet for Jo Walton the moral implications of use can be tricky. This is the strong point of the book, as far as the fantasy aspect. There is a great ‘system’ of magic in use. A combination of druidism and fairy magic that is simple, effective and, most importantly, believable.
The book is really a coming of age story of a teen-age girl, yes she can do magic and yes she can speak to fairies, but that is much background and has little to do with what plot there is. While Mor is shipped off to boarding school, there is no Harry Potter moments here. She is just a kid shipped off to boarding school, reflecting vague attempts to fend off her mother’s attacks. Here as in many other places in the novel, we are given a hazy idea of what is happening, but without any great detail or description.
The best part of the book is in the late trend of homaging a genre – like in the films Hugo or The Artist. Jo Walton here gives us a who’s who of Sci-Fi, Fantasy via Mor’s speed reading capabilities. For me these were the high points, as I was able to wax nostalgic over my reading history. While I may use this as reference for the future, it did not capture me in the story.
Perusing the Amazon reviews, I found what I expected to find, a majority of reviews from woman. This is a coming of age story about a girl, and I think it would have resonated a bit more with me had I been born female. As it was, I was happy to see a bit into the mind of a teenage girl – might help me in my relations!