Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (January 18, 2011)
In Among Others, the focus is less on fantasy and more on the magic of books and reading.
We went down the hill to the bookshop, sort of automatically, as if that's the way our feet wanted to turn. I said that to them.
"Bibliotrophic," Hugh said. "Like sunflowers are heliotrophic, they naturally turn toward the sun. We naturally turn toward the bookshop."
It is 1979. Mori is a Welsh teenager who has run away from her crazy mother and as a result has been sent to live with her father in England. She attends a boarding school, where she is very much the outcast, and fills her journal with discussions of books and authors and wistful wishes for friends. When she joins a book club at the local library and finds kindred spirits among other readers, she finds a new joy in life.
Written in the first person point of view, as a journal, the lyrical and well written prose of Among Others is a joy to read. Walton has great talent at turning an ordinary world into a magical one through her descriptions and narration.
All the discussions of authors that I've read and not read was also a delight. I laughed over discussions of books familiar to me, hearing myself in those discussions. Furthermore, I've now got a list of others to read, based on Mori's insights, that I might not have read otherwise.
Oddly enough--I am a fan of fantasy fiction--the fantasy element was difficult for me to enjoy. Walton painted her world so real and mundane, that when the fantasy elements were interjected, it felt like an imposition, as if she had torn apart the fabric of this world and sewn in a piece from another world. It didn't mesh properly. For me, the magic was Mori's life in books. The fairy magic almost seemed pretend, and I honestly felt cheated at times when the story moved from the "real world" discussion of Mori's friends and fiction addiction to Mori's dealing with the paranormal.
I wouldn't recommend this book across the board, to all bibliophile or all fantasy/sci fi readers. I think it's only going to find it's niche with those who are both devout bibliophiles as well as being fans of sci fi and fantasy novels.
This was my first time reading a novel by Jo Walsh, but it certainly will not be my last. If her other novels are as well written, I may have found a new favorite author.