I discovered Among Others when browsing this list of 50 Fantasy/Sci-Fi novels that everyone should read and the description plus the fact that it won both the Hugo and Nebula award had me quickly adding it to my reading list. It is a contemporary fairytale written as the diary of a mid-teens Welsch girl during 1979-80. She is haunted by a tragic accident that killed her twin sister in the past–a good part of the novel is devoted to dropping hints and slowly revealing to the reader what happened–hunted by her witch of a mother, forced by her twin aunts to attend boarding school in England, and besotted with Science Fiction novels.
Oh, also, she can perform magic and see fairies.
I think it is the description of the fairies–some knobbly and squat as old tree trunks, others beautiful and erotic as swimsuit models–and their habits and habitation that I enjoyed the most in this book. I also found the narrators voice quite engaging, and though she is a social pariah I found her personality and development from girl into womanhood quite endearing. Perhaps the only thing I found lack luster in this book was the main character’s tendency to write at length about the Sci-Fi novels she reads and her thoughts on them. Like most readers, I haven’t read most of what she references, and so I found myself skimming over those passages as they did nothing to the further the plot and had no real meaning to me.
Still, the passages describing her current book selections are fleeting and are easy to overlook when compared to the quiet brilliance that the rest of the novel presents. As I read I found that I could taste the honey-buns used as social currency at her school, I could feel the pain in her crippled leg, and I could really sense the growth and maturation she undergoes in the final battle against her mother. The novel manages to be sweet without becoming saccharine and evoke real feeling in the reader for a young woman finding her way in a world where magic, fairies, and evil (non)step-mothers exist.