178. Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Publication Date: December 2009 in North America; February 2010 in the UK
Price: $21 CAD, $16.99 USD, £6.99 GBP
Full Disclosure: I know the author and read three previous drafts of this book. I'm not exactly unbiased.
Nimira left her home country of Tiansher to make her fortune across the sea in Lorinar. Unfortunately, she arrived a few years too late--the market's fallen out of the foreign dancing girl business, and she's reduced to working in a taudry sideshow act. When Hollin Parry, a handsome young sorcerer, offers her a job accompanying his piano-playing automaton, she figures she might finally be on the track to a better life. But all is not as it seems at the oppulant estate of Vestenveld. Rumours abound, including one about the automaton himself. Could he really be haunted? Nimira dismisses the rumours as codswallop--until a surprising encounter convinces her that there may be more going on than meets the eye.
Ooh, my dears, I liked this! As I said above, I'd read early versions and so had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen, but I still couldn't tear myself away. I purchased the book late in the evening, read until I couldn't keep my eyes open, and woke up the next morning eager to see how everything turned out.
The whole thing just made me squee with joy. Nimira is a fantastic protagonist reminiscent of one of Kristin Cashore's heroines. She's capable and intelligent, but she's not afraid to take the time she needs to deal with everything that's going on inside her. As she says, sometimes you just need to cry before you can do anything else. All the same, she's not about to wait around for someone else to make things better. She takes matters into her own hands as she navigates through the secrets of Vestenveld and struggles to free the man she loves, and she's willing to consider practical solutions over romantic ones.
The secondary characters aren't quite as well-drawn as Nimira herself, but they're still wonderful. I loved getting to know Erris, Hollin and Annalie. Even though Hollin, in particular, held views that often differed from my own, I could see where he was coming from and what had led him to act as he did. He's not an unsympathetic character, for all his faults.
And the world....! My dears, I would like to know everything about this place. Lorinar is an imaginary country, but it has strong ties to our own Victorian era. There's magic, yes, but there's also a keen interest in technology. The city of New Sweeling has streetcars and elevators and electricity (though it seems that gaslights are still more prominent). The story never quite reaches steampunkesque proportions, but there's definitely room for a deeper consideration of how the technology impacts these people.
Lorinar is just a small part of a large whole, too; we also hear a little bit about the faerie kingdoms to the west and the countries back over the ocean. I'd love to visit them all. I believe Dolamore's next novel is set in the same world, albeit in a different location and an earlier era. I can't wait to read it--and let's all hope we also get a sequel to this book!
Believe me, y'all want to get your hands on this. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a lighter fantasy read.
In fact, I want you to read it so much that I'm willing to buy you a copy. Click the link for the full contest details!
I was disappointed with the original cover. Don't get me wrong, it's gorgeous, but the model appears to be Caucasian--and Nimira's a woman of colour. It would've been nice to see a cover that reflected her ethnicity, especially after Bloomsbury's LIAR controversy early this year.
At least they corrected their mistake and reissued the book with the lovely cover you can see at the top of this post.
Y'all oughta check out the book trailer, too:
Carrie's YA Bookshelf
Steph Su Reads
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