Book Review: AMONG OTHERS, Jo Walton

“This isn’t a nice story, and this isn’t an easy story. But it is a story about fairies, so feel free to think of it as a fairy story. It’s not like you’d believe it anyway.” 

Oh. My. Grosh.

This is a brilliant little bit of fiction – I loved this book. The voice, the plot, the faeries. Absolutely fantastic, and very high on my list of books-to-recommend-to-everyone.

As the novel opens we see Mori and her twin sister performing magic, and the magic in this book is very cleverly thought out, and even more cleverly applied. The trick to the magic is, in essence, that you can never tell whether it has been done. Did you use magic to change the bus schedule, as well as all the lives of all those people who catch that bus, or did it arrive two minutes early organically? Was that factory going to close down anyway, or did throwing a flower into a pond make it close?

Mori and her sister have to perform magic, after the fairies ask them to. They must perform magic, to stop their mother from taking over the world, from ever having ruled the world. Mori is crippled in the attempt, and her sister is killed, her mother goes insane (or was she always insane?) and Mori is forced to leave Wales, and to go to boarding school at her long-absent father’s insistence. She is forced to live, among others.

Sprinkled through with arguments and praise for famous science fiction and fantasy authors (Mori is a huge fan), I loved absolutely everything about this book. It’s Harry Potter, backwards.

“I did not buy a book called Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen Donaldson, which has the temerity to compare itself, on the front cover, to ‘Tolkien at his best.’ The back cover attributes the quote to the Washington Post, a newspaper whose quotations will always damn a book for me from now on. How dare they? And how dare the publishers? It isn’t a comparison anyone could make, except to say ‘Compared to Tolkien at his best, this is dross.’ I mean you could say that even about really brilliant books like A Wizard of Earthsea. I expect Lord Foul’s Bane (horrible title, sounds like a Conan book) is more like Tolkien at his worst, which would be the beginning of The Simarillion.

The thing about Tolkien, about The Lord of the Rings, is that it’s perfect.” 

Five stars.

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