Your Favourites (Sophie Scott) – Obernewtyn

One of my favourite books is Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody. Being a fan of fantasy, the novel appealed to me immediately.

It appears that humans are fascinated with the idea of what would happen if there were an apocalypse; how people would cope, and what would have to change, or what would change. What fascinated me in the whole story-line was the idea of “Misfits”. Those born with mutations that border on magical powers, such as telepathy, communication with animals, coercion, and empathy. I wondered if it were not so different from now, where the “Misfits” that Carmody describe could parallel with the outcasts of modern society. It is possible to relate with the “Misfits” in the story, not for their unusual powers, but in their division from the rest of what society calls “normal”. Indeed, the story does question the line between what is considered the norm, and what is considered abnormal and potentially dangerous. Therein lies the debate of what is right and wrong.

This is my favourite story because it explores the shades of gray between the black and white of normality. I can relate to the main character, Elspeth Gordie, who, despite her abundance of abilities, does not misuse her powers and fights for what she essentially believes is just. She comes across as an uncommonly kind and intelligent person, both qualities (particularly the former) being under-appreciated by many people. She also possesses the kind of curiosity that endears a character to the reader. It is interesting to note that nearly all the characters in the novel that are Misfits appear to be more perceptive or understanding than the other characters.

I also like the concept of Obernewtyn itself and what it represents; a grim, imposing building that, by the end of the book, it converted into the start of a secret safe haven and community for all Misfits.



The Australian Literature Review

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