Title: Magic Under Glass
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Received from: publisher
Nimira is a music-hall girl used to dancing for pennies. So when wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing accompaniment to a mysterious piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it will be the start of a better life. In Parry’s world, long-buried secrets are about to stir. Unsettling rumors begin to swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry’s involvement in a group of corrupt sorcerers for whom the rules of the living and dead are meant to be broken for greater power. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing fairy gentleman is trapped within the automaton, she is determined to break the curse. But even as the two fall into a love that seems hopeless, breaking the curse becomes a perilous race against time. Because it’s not just the future of these star-crossed lovers that’s at stake, but the fate of the entire magical world.
As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for a good Fireplace Read--y'know, those ones you can curl up with and just laugh and cry and feel all these fantastic things while at the same time knowing that whatever greater force is out there would not possibly let the characters stray too far, that it will always be okay, because this is Fireplace Land where the clouds are made of sugar and the rain made of gumdrops and the rabbid dogs made of footie pajamas? Yes, well, Magic Under Glass is one of those reads.
Nimira (or Nim), a fallen-from-grace preformer reduced to dancing for pennies in a lowly club, After her family lost their position, she ventured to Lorinar to find her fortune, far from her native Tassim, where dancing and singing is considered fine arts. So, needless to say, when the dashing sorceror Mr. Parry calls upon her at the music hall she works in, she leaps at the chance to sing for Parry's rich collegues with an auctioned automaton, with promises of the fortune she seeks. When Parry informs her he had hired several other girls previously, but they had all fled, claiming that the clockwork automaton on the piano is alive, she brushes it aside. But she quickly discovers that the automaton is, indeed, alive. A fallen fairy prince named Erris, he is trapped inside the clockwork form by a dark magic. She decides to take it upon herself to uncover the reasoning behind Erris' enprisonment, falling in love with him in the process.
Fairies, as I'm sure a great many of you would agree, are horribly over-done in the YA scene (along with every other mythical creature, but thats a rant for a later date). And, while there are many different interpretations, from Melissa Marr's gritty urban fey to Guillermo Del Toro's wicked little buggers. For the most part, I've never really, truly read a bad fairy book--they have mostly ranged from meh to ohmygodMOAR! I'm tickled pink to say this streak has not been broken, and Magic Under Glass is an absolutly lovely addition to the growing meta-genre.
Nim as a character is one of those irrevocably good people you occasionally read about, one that is not described to death as a sweet, caring person but never actually does a thing to prove it; she is so gentle and so sweet, but at the same time hardened by a rather cruel life. I loved her, and if she and I were to meet at any point I would totally give her one of those BFF necklaces. She sets herself apart from the Bella Swans of the world, who live for and only for the men in their lives, but she also stems away from the Too Kool For Skool badasses in urban fantasy; she is a practical, proud, independent and down-to-earth chick that breaths a new light into female protagonists.
The one issue I had with it was how damn short it was. The ingredients are all there--awesome characters, interesting plot, different-yet-familiar world, lovely prose--but then it just feels as though it stops when it should go on, moves forward when it should dwell a bit longer. I wanted to know more about this world that I have hardly had a chance to explore, these characters that could be so fucking amazing if only I could just get a couple more paragraphs. I'm sure something could be said for Erris, a fairy trapped in a fucking robot suit, or Parry, a young sorceror with a shady past and a poitical agenda, or Nim, a girl darkp-skinned girl away from her homeland. There MUST be more Dolarmore can write for these people! Or this world! Or something!
However, while the ending is a tad dark, there is a sliver of hope in the form of a letter, and I can only pray that Dolamore will spawn up a sequal with (hopefully) much more worldbuilding and more of my new best buddy.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Also: for more Victorian-kinda goodness, may I suggest Libba Brey's A Great and Terrible Beauty, as well as the lovely Jane Eyre?