My Rating: 5 stars
Did Jo Walton write this book for me? Because Among Others has literally everything I could want in a book: a boarding school, a coming-of-age plot, magic, and a special focus on fantasy literature. And even though there have been books with boarding schools and magic and a character coming of age, I have never encountered a book like this before. I said that about Walton’s Or What You Will, and I also felt this way about Tooth and Claw. Each of her books is an utterly beautiful and completely unique experience.
This book is extremely character-driven. Morwenna, nicknamed Mori, is our narrator, and we see the story through her journal entries. I absolutely loved Mori as a character. Everything about her feels real: the grief for her twin sister, the pain from her injury, her extreme awkwardness with everyone. She’s lovable and relatable, and I just adored reading her story. The rest of Walton’s characters are just as well drawn even though we aren’t in their heads. Wim was a particular favorite of mine, and I enjoyed seeing Mori’s relationship with him form. I also found Daniel, Mori’s father, and his relationships with this three sisters interesting (note that I say interesting, not likable. There’s a reason for that). Walton just does an excellent job crafting her characters, no matter how minor they are.
I also loved Walton’s take on magic in this book. She had me wondering for the first half if it was actually real. But the second half solidified the fact that it is, and Walton has also confirmed that. Magic is extremely subtle in this world; Mori frequently wonders if something is caused by magic, and there is no way to confirm or deny it. The fairies are mysterious, creepy, and wonderful. I loved the way Walton handles them. They don’t have names, so Mori refers to them by names of book characters. They don’t communicate the same way humans do, so Mori has to translate it when recording it in her diary. Little details like this made me completely believe in the fairies and the magic.
Something I’ve noticed about Walton’s books is that they are all a love letter to something. Among Others is a love letter to sci-fi/fantasy literature. Mori is a voracious reader and goes through multiple books a day. Her favorite genres are fantasy and sci-fi. There are so many books mentioned in this, some that I knew and a ton that I didn’t. Even better, we get to hear Mori’s thoughts on these books and see her conversations about them with her father, the school librarian, and her book club. I was absolutely in my element, and now I have a bunch of books I need to look up!
Overall, Among Others is yet another wonderful fantasy novel by Walton that is absolutely worth checking out. It’s a beautiful love letter to reading, fantasy and sci-fi literature, libraries, and librarians.