Book Review: Magic Under Glass

A resin statue of a Fairy in natural surroundi...
A resin statue of a Fairy in natural surroundings. 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The young singer Nimira came from a foreign land in search of her fortune.  Now, performing in seedy halls for pennies, she wonders if maybe traveling so far wasn’t a mistake.

Then gentleman sorcerer Hollin Parry hears her sing, and hires her on the spot to accompany a musical automaton that he acquired at an auction.  Nimira accepts, of course–who wouldn’t jump at the chance to play in distinguished homes?

When she hears a rumor that the automaton is haunted, Nimira scoffs.  However, when she practices with the automaton for the first time, she realizes that it isn’t haunted–it’s alive.

The fairy prince Erris was captured and turned into this. . . machine. . . during the last fairy war thirty years before.  Nimira is horrified at the idea that a sorcerer thought it acceptable to turn a living being into a automaton in the first place, so she searches for a way to save him.  And her actions aren’t driven completely out of compassion, for, as she learns more about Erris, she is slowly falling in love with him.

But many people want Erris either safely controlled or dead.  One such villain, Mr. Smollings (who happens to hold the prestigious office of Ambassador of Magic), holds Parry in his thrall, and is very interested in this new automaton.  However, he needs only to confirm his suspicions that the automaton is in reality a fairy before using Erris as a valuable pawn in a game of politics, or worse, destroying him completely.

There was never much time to rescue Erris, and Nimira is running out of what little is left.  She must find a way to save Erris–and in the process, save her future and her heart.

Jacklyn Dolamore‘s Magic Under Glass has that unique feel that you only find in debut novels.  What do I mean by this?  Well, it feels fresh, exciting, and, most of all, new.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Jacklyn Dolamore is an author to watch.  Nimira’s world is sketched out lightly, yet with fullness:  A world where fairies and humans co-exist, and sorcerers rule the day, where a misunderstanding of other races can and will lead to war.  There’s also a few overtones of steampunk, but these are mostly suggested and then left up to the imagination.

The characters hover close to three-dimensionality.  They have enough personality to draw you in–Nimira’s a performer who ran away from her family’s bad fortune and longs for a stable future; Erris is a prince who emphatically does not want the throne; Hollin Parry has his own secrets that threaten to destroy his home and his future–but most of their attractiveness as characters stems from their circumstances.  They’ve all made bad choices and now have to struggle against the results, and it is that struggle which makes them seem so real and so human (yes, even the fairy prince).

So, would I recommend Magic Under Glass to anyone?  The answer is Yes, but.  See, there’s the inconvenient little fact that the story isn’t quite complete:  Ol’ Cliff Hanger makes an appearance.  The sad fact is that I was somewhat resigned to the fact, as I knew that the sequel, Magic Under Stone, has been released.  Still, Dolamore could have easily ended Magic Under Glass with a perfectly wonderful bittersweet ending without resorting to a cliffhanger.  Or, perhaps better, finished the story in one book (though perhaps then the book might have been too big for publishers–see this interesting post by Matthew Iden for more info).

So, if you can stomach the cliffhanger, read Magic Under Glass.  It’s a fun read, though I would suggest checking it out from the library before committing to buy it (because of our friend Cliff Hanger).  And when you’ve finished reading it, let me know what you think!

~River

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