Monday, July 23, 2012

Awesome Book Reviews: MAGIC UNDER GLASS By Jaclyn Dolamore

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 rumors 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. 

Review: Magic Under Glass was published in 2009, and since then, I've been wondering whether I should read it or not. Why? After reading the book's summary, I thought, "This just sounds too up my alley to be true", and I got scared. Would it disappoint me after enticing me with its awesome premise? Would I expect too much from its promised awesomeness? Then I read this review from one of my favorite authors, Maggie Stiefvater, and I thought, "Holy whoa, Maggie loved it. Which means I'll most likely love it, too."

Still, I didn't read Magic Under Glass. I was too, too scared of being duped.

Cut to Saturday night. I'd bought the book for my Kindle months before, but I was too chicken to read it back then. I let the book hang around until Saturday night. I said to myself, "WHAT IS YOUR MALFUNCTION?? Read it already!!!"

So I read Magic Under Glass. And I have one word to describe the experience: delightful.

The main character, Nimira, is my long lost friend. She's a nice mix of sweet and tough, a determined yet fearful heroine. She grew up as the daughter of a lord who fell out of favor in their homeland's court. As a result, her father shipped Nim off to Lorinar, where she becomes a "trouser girl" who must dance for money. Nim's voice and her attention to detail are refreshing to the point where I wanted to make out with my Kindle--I felt like I was right there with her in Lorinar, in Hollin Parry's estate, next to the piano with Erris, the automaton. 

And ERRIS. What can I say about this poor, poor creature? He's a boy stuck inside a machine, for the love of Jensen Ackles! I understood (and agreed) with Nim's attitude toward him--at first, she's wary of the fact that he makes noises in the failed attempt to speak, but soon after, all she wants is to find out how she can help him. She even devises a system of communication between them: each note of the piano represents a letter in the alphabet, and Erris spells out what he wants to say by playing her music. It killed me to see Erris struggle to explain his side of the story, why he's in the position he's in, and how he could be freed. But it warmed my heart to see Nim stand by him, even though she doesn't know who he is, and even more dire, she's not in Parry's estate to do anything but sing.

As a writer, I couldn't help but notice some writer-ly brilliance on Dolamore's part. She is a master at raising the stakes with each chapter, and even a greater master at showing you how those stakes will affect Nim's story. No choice is an easy one in this book, and even though I predicted some of the outcomes, I was pleasantly surprised by how well Dolamore crafted a logical, seamless plot. Also, the cast of characters complemented each other really well for me. Tension was high even in the more quiet scenes, which I find difficult to pull off in my writing. Dolamore not only entertains me with a compelling plot, she also schools me in the art of writing a compelling plot.

Don't make the same mistake I made, folks. If you enjoy a little steampunk with your fantasy, a little adventure with your romance, check out Magic Under Glass, which is available in bookstores now! 

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