Thursday, 11 April 2013

Review: Among Others by Jo Walton

Among Others starts slowly, but is immediately intriguing. Told through the diary of a 14-year-old Welsh girl, Mori, to begin with it appears that the main action has already happened - Mori has run away from home after some terrible magical occurance which left her crippled and her twin sister Mor dead.
Mori is then forced to live with her father, who she has never met before, in Shrewsbury, which feels very far away from the rolling Welsh mountains and the enigmatic fairies Mori is used to.
As Mori is sent to boarding school in Oswestry, the story takes on a slight Harry Potter feel, but in reverse, with the magical girl having to try to fit in at a very normal school.
Mori's love of sci-fi is a theme throughout the story, but even without knowing the authors she mentions the story still flows, and the books she reads eventually turn out to be more than just a diversion for a crippled girl who can't play sports.
Living in Oswestry myself, I found myself wondering if girls from Moreton Hall boarding school had ever caught the bus into town to look for fairies, or if the school had been the basis for Mori's school, especially after finding out that the author, Jo Walton, went to boarding school in the town when she was the same age that Mori is in the story. There are lots of little hints of description when Mori visits Shrewsbury or Oswestry, and a lovely diary entry chronicling the train journey through Shropshire on the way back to Wales - all of which will have a very familiar feel to anyone who knows the area.
Set in the 1970s, Among Others has a nice, almost old fashioned feel, and it was a captivating read that I didn't want to put down.
5 out of 5

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