Rain makes me dip cajun fries in a chocolate shake and watch a horror movie. Now you know.
I like Jo Walton’s writing, but hadn’t fallen in love with any of her stories. And then Among Others came along. This book is a gift for people who love to read. I adored it and my boyfriend couldn’t get through it, so I guess you have to want this gift to love it.
It’s 1979 and Morwena, Mo, is alone in the world. Fairies told her and her twin sister to drop these flowers in polluted water to shut down a dirty factory and it worked. Then something very bad happened with their evil witch mother and now her twin Morgana is dead.
It’s a bit disorienting, starting the story after what seems like the climax, but it’s a brilliant approach. This is about what happens after the curtain closes, like a dancer who leaps off the stage and continues on out of sight. We’re the lucky audience who gets to get out of our seats and follow. The call to adventure came and Mo and her sister answered. They stopped the big bad. They saved the world. Morgana died for it and nobody knows. What do you do after that?
Adventures are ripe fodder. What comes after is less action packed, but equally compelling. In this case more so. Imagine saving the world and losing your sister doing it and now you’re a lonely cripple Welsh girl, thrown in an English boarding school full of rich snoots with holes in their ears who can’t see fairies.
I adore Mo’s character. She loves the mountains and valleys she grew up in and the boy she likes has hair the color of honey buns. She has an affinity for SF and counts interlibrary loans as a reason to live. This ordinary, dreary world they saved is magical in a way few will ever know, but at least she can check out 8 books at a time.
I think I ought to do something about the way the universe is unfolding, because there are things that need obvious and immediate attention, like the fact that the Russians and the Americans could blow the world to bits at any moment, and Dutch elm disease, and famine in Africa, not to mention my mother.
Mo very much wants a karass, Vonnegut’s term for a group of people linked together. So she does a little magic to throw the odds in her favor and from then on has to question to affection of anyone who comes into her life. And because these people are members of a book club, her efforts overfloweth with literary references.
Things need to be worth doing for themselves, not just for practice for some future time.
It’s sort of a coming-of-age. Mo’s physical pain and the new people in her life force her to find this new side of herself. She touches the physical magic of acupuncture. The more she comes to understand the dangers of selfish magic, the more she appreciates simple magic in friendship and nature.
From the description, I assumed this would be a bummer to read, but it’s high on intellect not emotions. I want to be in this world where Mo not only sees faeries but questions what they are and the possible answers would be so nice. This is one book I have to own and re-read.
Oh, and if you’re looking for book recommendations Mo’s full of them. I loaded up my library holds with her recommendations, starting with The Martian Chronicles and Have Space Suit – Will Travel.