Saturday, January 16, 2010

YA Review: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Magic Under Glass
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (December 22, 2009)

Product Description from Amazon: Nimira is a foreign music-hall girl forced to dance for mere pennies. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with a piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new and better life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets are beginning to stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry's involvement with a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. Then Nimira discovers the spirit of a fairy gentleman named Erris is trapped inside the clockwork automaton, waiting for someone to break his curse. The two fall into a love that seems hopeless, and breaking the curse becomes a race against time, as not just their love, but the fate of the entire magical world may be in peril.

My Thoughts: This was a lovely book. I like the character of Nimira. Her mother was a famous dancer and her father a lord. When her mother dies and her father is disgraced, Nimira decides to try to make her own fortune in a strange land. She is just 13 when she leaves home and is almost 17 when this story begins. She has found that dancing is not so highly prized and there isn't a fortune to be found. When she has a chance to work for the sorcerer Hollin Parry, she looks at it as a possible chance for a better life. This quote, when she sees Parry's home, gives a good flavor of her.
"Vestenveld," he said. "The Parry estate. How do you like it?" He watched me.
"Lovely," I said, although my first thought was what a cold and lonely face the house wore in the cloudy night. Lights glowed from just a scattered handful of windows, while the building itself looked endless, with arches and stone towers and dozens of separate roofs. The architect seemed to have tacked on majesty wherever he could find a spot."
She quickly discovers that the automaton that Hollin wants her to perform with is a man imprisoned by a sorcerer. In fact, he is Erris a fairy prince imprisoned during the last war with fairy that killed all of his brothers and sisters making him the rightful king of fairy. She is determined to help him and over the course of some time falls in love with him. Otherwise, her life at Parry's estate is a lonely one.
"I lingered over my eggs and toast, heaving a few dramatic sighs to myself. If one spends too many hours in solitude, one starts to emote for one's own benefit."
Throughout the book I was uncertain about the character of Hollin Parry. He is a rich man but under the control of the head of the Sorcerer's Councl Mr. Soleran Smollings. He is being blackmailed by him. He seems to be a very wishy-washy sort of person. He says he wants to run away with Nimira but conveniently forgets to mention that his wife Annilie is alive and imprisoned in the attic. Hollin had cast a spell to try to save her life and now she sees spirits. This casting a spell of dark magic has given Smollings the fodder to blackmail him. Hollin seems to have accepted defeat before fighting any battle.

Nimira is young but very courageous. She is willing to do anything to help Erris. She even calls on the Queen of Longest Night to aide him. The queen makes him flesh again but he still needs the clockwork key to keep from winding down. Making him flesh again doesn't solve the problems. There is still the question of dark magic and the political situation puts all of them in danger. Smollings is a very powerful man and sorcerer.
"Sometimes, before you make any plans or resolutions, before you declare your heroic intent to persevere, you just have to cry.
And cry I did."
After Smollings takes Erris away, Nim plans with Hollin and Annilie to fight for justice. It takes all their gifts and courage to triumph. Even after defeating Smollings problems remain to be solved. When the books ends Erris and Nim are off to try to solve some of the problems. I hope Ms. Dolamore is busy writing their next adventure because I want to know what happens next.

Challenges: 2010 YA Debut Author, 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge, RYOB Challenge

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