Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably 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 SF, 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 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…
Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, this is potentially a breakout book for an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers like Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. Le Guin. (From GoodReads)
I'm not sure exactly how I feel about Among Others. On one hand, it's a unflinchingly honest account of a young, troubled girl's life. It's the story of the changes that occur in a brief, but important period in her life. On the other, she has a mother who deals in "bad magic" and she sees fairies. Morwenna herself does a small bit of magic. If this had been simply a coming-of-age story or a story about magic, I think I could have been a little more on board with Among Others. The two worlds just didn't seem to mesh well, in my opinion.
I was slightly thrown off course from the very beginning of the book. The opening gave a vague sense of what had happened to lead Morwenna to her circumstances, but I felt that I needed more to be invested. For at least the first half of the story, you know her mom is evil and her sister has died, but the story-telling was very cryptic. I suppose maybe that was to give Morwenna a chance to be ready to tell her story, which is fine. But I needed more to go on.
While I wasn't bowled over by the bulk of the story, one aspect really struck me. Among Others, above all else, is a story about the magic and transformative power of books. A young girl, damaged by a crazy mother, sent away to school, seeks refuge in books. They lead her to friendship, peace and happiness. In that respect, Among Others is a treat for those who have an enormous love of books. That in itself made it a worthwhile read for me.
Favorite Quote ~
"It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books."
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published January 18th 2011 by Tor Books
You can find Among Others at:
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* I received Among Others from Tor Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.*
The winner of Among Others is Christina M!
Congrats to Christina! Thanks to all who entered.