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Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Review: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
Publication Date: December 22nd 2009 (Bloomsbury USA Children's Books)
240 Pages

Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton's stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

With so many fairy stories on the market, it was refreshing to enter the exciting world Jaclyn Dolamore has created within MAGIC UNDER GLASS. Nimira, the heroine, is a dark skinned performer who dreams of walking away from the tumultuous life of a trouser girl (one who sings and dances for mere pennies in front of slobbering, roguish men with no appreciation for musical talent). One day fortune smiles on Nimira when handsome and extremely wealthy Hollin Parry whisks into her life and offers her an escape route from her unhappy existence. Parry needs a singer to accompany his piano playing automaton. Only there is one small catch. The automaton appears to be haunted and has scared off other girls Parry tried to hire in the past. A disbelieving Nimira quickly signs on for the job, hoping that this gig will be her ticket to a better life. She soon discovers, however, that the rumors are true and that a fairy prince named Erris is trapped within the automaton's torturous spring and cog mechanisms. Meanwhile, an impending fairy war looms around Nimira as she becomes immersed in a sea of sorcery, political corruption, blackmail and assassinations.

Right from the start, Jaclyn Dolamore captured my attention with MAGIC UNDER GLASS. Honestly, how can one not be tantalized by the unique premise of a fairy prince being trapped in an automaton? Nimira’s voice was so appealing with the way her innocence contrasted with the impressive strength of character she continuously exhibited. Knowing that Nimira's musical gifts would've been met with esteem in her native land made her current plight even more compelling to me, and I desperately wanted her to gain some security within her situation. The strain between sorcerers and fairies added even more tension to the novel as well. At times the novel even had a certain flair that reminded me of Jane Eyre due to the interesting situations unfolding within Parry’s household. Parry himself was a fascinating character. Though he toed the line between hero and villain at times, I still felt sympathetic and intrigued by him. The development of Erris’ and Nimira’s relationship was plausible and I was completely taken in by their situation – I am always one for a good hopeless love story!

MAGIC UNDER GLASS was a highly imaginative, unique story with a great blend of magic, intrigue and romance. Time was constantly running out for Nimira to free Erris and my heart beat faster with each delicious turn of the page. The book itself is a quick read- almost too quick. I could’ve been easily entertained for many more chapters. The ending was somewhat unexpected for me, and seemed to be set up for a sequel. If there is one planned, I will definitely grab onto it eagerly to see where Nimira and Erris’ story takes them next.

Jaclyn Dolamore was homeschooled in a hippie sort of way and spent her childhood reading as many books as her skinny nerd-body could lug from the library and playing elaborate pretend games with her sister Kate. She skipped college and spent eight years drudging through retail jobs, developing her thrifty cooking skills and pursuing a lifelong writing dream. She has a passion for history, thrift stores, vintage dresses, David Bowie, drawing, and organic food. She lives with her partner and plot-sounding-board, Dade, and two black tabbies who have ruined her carpeting.


Becky said...

Thanks to your review I finally undersatnd what this book is about. I couldn't get my head around the automaton concept but now I can. Thanks so much, you're a star. I can definitely say I want to read this now.

Nickles said...

Great review! I'm looking forward to reading this. It sounds pretty original and unique.

Jill of The O.W.L. said...

Thanks for the review. I really didn't get what this book was about, but now I do.

You have an award at my blog.

The Book Owl said...

Great review. Magic Under Glass sounds wonderful. A refreshing new take on fantasy.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Great review. The authoress sounds like quite the cool cat in my book :)