Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.
Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science-fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled - and her twin sister dead.
Fleeing to her father, whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England - a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off.
Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude, this is potentially a breakout book for an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers like Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
©2010 Jo Walton (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
“Walton succeeds admirably. Her novel is a wonder and a joy.” (The New York Times)
"Katherine Kellgren’s Welsh accent, with its lyrical cadences, suggests that audio may be the most authentic way to experience this 2011 winner of the Nebula Award." (Audiofile)
(No spoiler here.) The final scenes which reveal (I think) what the story was really all about.
Excellent. I am not sure about her Welsh accent, but she has me convinced. First rate, and a difficult role.
The book is more of a coming of age story than anything else. There is no SF in it at all, and even the fantasy is thin - this is not a negative criticism.
Totally addicted! It's possible I might need Audible rehab.
It's rare that I don't get through a book. I can't give an honest review of the story because of the narration. I appreciate a good thick accent but this was missing changes of inflection or something. It was just difficult for me to listen to long enough to really invest in the story.
I very much enjoyed READING the story, and I normally really like Katherine Kellgren. However, her Welsh accent in this one drove me crazy ~ too "sing-song" for my preferences.
This is a book about books, about magic, and about the magic of reading itself. Books are the brightest part of life for the young heroine, and are also her doorway to connecting with other people. The narrator is the incomparable Katherine Kellgren, who gets a whole new accent to voice, Welsh, which she does terrifically. I so wanted to meet this young lady and share her enthusiasm for the joy of reading.
The story in general is original, and the novel has some excellent parts. However, the constant literary references consume more time and authorial energy than the plot itself, and it gets annoying fast. If I have to hear the term "SF" again I may scream, and this from an admitted bibliophile who adores Science Fiction. I mean, it's nice to hear titles and authors I love mentioned, but, really, who wants to hear what the protagonist is reading ad nasueam? Seriously, it's continuous. I appreciate the connections the character is making between the novels and her own life, and recognize the role this plays in advancing the story, but enough is enough. Also, the narrator's inflections become irritating after a bit.
The audio novel is probably fine for the reader who likes this kind of story.
I don't believe I would
I need to remember to listen to samples before making purchases. No matter how good the story is, the narrator makes or breaks the experience.
Unfortunately, this audiobook was not my favorite - which perhaps explains why it was so easy to take a long break from listening to it! It is not a bad book, really, but the author chose to have this coming-of-age-story be relayed through journal entries. I think it would have perhaps been more successful in print version. Though I originally though that the accent would add to the fun of this, the narrator’s voice can be a bit distracting in the performance with some accents overly emphasized. What I like the most about the book is the obvious passion the journaler, Mor, has for reading - particularly Science Fiction novels. Though I have read quite a bit in this genre as well, this book includes her reactions to many titles that I had never even heard of! In fact, the majority of the book seems to be an outlet for discussion on SF literature - with a few classics sprinkled in. School, Mor’s fractured family life, romance and bits of magic are all rather sidelined by recountings of plots, characters, authors and a consistent dislike of maths. The climax feels rather rushed and genuinely unsatisfying - nor does it seem to mesh with the preceding pages (hours listening). Maybe it’s just that Walton too accurately captured a fifteen year old and that is why I never quite connected with the narrator...
Genre: Fantasy (technically, urban fantasy, but it doesn't fit any of the tropes)There is very little plot to this book, it is more a mood and character study. It is told entirely though diary entries of a high-school aged (or in Britain and Wales where the book is set forth form/lower fifth form aged) Mori Phelps during 1979. What has happened in the past is explained in dribs and drabs - there was an accident and Mori's twin sister died and Mori herself was crippled. This accident was either caused by their mother or caused by Mori in an attempt to stop their mother from doing something vile with magic, it's not quite clear. Mori was then forced to live with her mother after her grandfather's subsequent stroke and runs away. Child services sends her to live with her father, Daniel, who abandoned them when she was a baby, so he's a stranger to her. Luckily for her, Daniel shares her love of science fiction, not so luckily, he lives with his sisters who immediately pack the Welsh middle-class Mori off to an upper class British boarding school. Her only solace is reading. Her diary is filled with the books she's read obsessively, which are mostly science fiction, but she does read mysteries and Plato as eagerly. In many ways the book is an homage to scifi and fandom, but it's also a fond stroll down memory lane, when there was no internet and the way you discovered new books was to see them all bright and shiny in a bookstore and eagerly gobbled them up.
The way magic works in this novel is unique in my reading experience -- it's not like D&D, reliable do X get Y result. It's very fluid: the effects of a magic spell can't be foreseen, and can always be explained away. Mori struggles with the morality of her own actions magic-wise, which is made worse by the very intangibility of determining exactly what she did. There are fairies (although it's not at all clear that that's what they are -- that's just what Mori calls them) but most people can't see them, and they don't look like what most people think fairies look like; they aren't Tolkein's elves, or Shakespeare's Peaseblossoms and sprites, nor Tinkerbell. They are more earthy and non-human, and they generally don't talk - and when they do, they don't use nouns. Like classic fairy stories, it is best to treat them with caution, although Mori, being a socially awkward teenager, frequently fails to do so, with varying results.
I enjoyed the book very much - but it is not a fast paced action-adventure, if that's what you're looking for. It's more a slow period piece, examination of character, time and place. Off the top of my head I can't think of another science fiction/fantasy book its similar too. It did leave me with a substantial list of sci-fi classics i want to go re-read simply from Mori's excitement reminding me about them!
Katherine Kellgren uses a welsh accent throughout the audio book; it adds a lot to Mori's perspective and the class-conflict between her and her classmates, although it did take a bit to get used to initially.
For all the diary tone is fairly light, much of the subject matter was rather dark somewhat depressing.
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