5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Among Others (Hardcover)
Among Others is one of those books that, in capturing the magic of its narrator's inner world, becomes itself magical. Told in the form of the diary of fifteen-year-old Mor, it begins in the aftermath of a terrible event we only slowly, throughout the novel, come to understand. Mor's (literally magical) childhood was shared with her twin sister, but her twin is now dead, Mor herself is left with a painful and perhaps permanent leg-injury, and she has run away from her mother, who is a witch and perhaps insane, and who was the cause of it all.
Despite this dramatic, fantastical background, the novel itself is quite low key. Its magic is subtle. Mor continues to see fairies (which Walton has imagined in an entirely convincing and, to me at least, new way), and to do a little magic on her own (though this is something she has increasingly worrisome moral doubts about -- she doesn't want to turn into a dark witch like her mother); but, just as much, she lives an ordinary teenage life, complete with trying to make friends at her new school, and adjusting to the new half of her family she's been thrust upon (in running from her mother, she's been placed in the hands of her estranged father, and his stiflingly conventional family). Mor is also an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, and a good deal of the fun of this novel is in following her reading, and finding out what she thinks of what she reads. (The novel takes place between 1979 and 1980, so the books she reads are of that time.)
But this is one of those novels that no plot summary can adequately describe. It is Mor's inner life, her struggles with the delicacies and difficulties of both fairy magic and human friends and family, that make it what it is. Walton sidesteps the obvious move of equating the fantastic and magical with childhood, and so the necessary loss of both in adolescence. Instead, the ending is wonderfully affirmative, and, for me at least, spot-on in combining the necessity of facing up to reality while retaining that vital magic and imagination.