Among Others

Jo Walton
Among Others Cover

Among Others


This is a delightful book which once I started I could not put down. The central character is not only believable but likeable and as a reader I easily connected to her and hoped for her happiness.

The notion of magic in the book is handled delicately and Walton balances superbly the idea that 'the fairies are real' whilst never quite dispelling the idea that magic is the result of a lonely teenage girl's over active imagination.

Walton writes beautifully and the 'magic' of old things and wild places comes through whilst the 'real world' of late 1970's Britain meshes well. The 'journal' structure of the novel makes this an easy read but also underpins the growth of Morwenna as an individual. The feeling I was left with at the end was that this is not a novel about SF or magic but one of growth and empowerment.

I carried on trying to read Mor's relationship with her mother as Mor not realising her mother was unwell, rather than a witch. However, believing her mother is witch and fairies are real makes for a much more enjoyable novel.

I found the realtionship with her father both challenging yet strangely touching with two strangers who perhaps want to care for each other, coming to terms with the other and beginning to care and grow closer together.

Underpinning this relationship (and everything else!) is a love of SF. I'm not particularly well-read in SF so much of it did seem a list of names but this did not impact on my enjoyment of the book. I can see how some would see the novel as a homage to fandom and how that would make some nostalgically fall in love with the book whilst others would perhaps read it a little more cynically with it's intended audience in mind. Ultimately, it did not want me to read the books mentioned in the text but I did want to read more Walton so I guess this work.

My only minor criticism was of the character Wim - I found him a little clumsy and never really understood his motives and desires. I also found this 'flawed' character almost a little to perfect. This could be viewed as a criticism of Walton's characterisation yet at the same time I think an argument could be made that many teenage boys are clumsy with unclear motives...

It's a homage to SF, it's a memoir but it's also a wonderful story about fairies.

As a post script and to continue Walton's ideas that magic makes things 'just happen' it seems a remarkable coincidence that for someone who isn't very knowledgable about SF (me) picks the first female author in the Hugo's for the WOGF challenge and I'm presented with a list of lots of new novels to investigate. Also, when reading about Jo Walton I discovered we lived in the same town at one time and went to the same university. Also, recently I have rekindled my interest in roleplaying games from the 80's and have been re-acquiring them. I noticed the other day that I have a copy of a roleplaying book she co-authored unread in my house......

about magic.