Friday, January 29, 2016

MAGIC UNDER GLASS


Review of MAGIC UNDER GLASS by JACLYN DOLAMORE
(first in the MAGIC UNDER series)

Nimira feels like she has fallen in life. Once she was an admired and appreciated singer performing alongside her famous dancer mother in a breathtakingly beautiful palace. Then she moved to a new county to make her own way and seek her fortune only to discover performers aren’t as respected everywhere. Now she sings in dingy settings for little money and condescending patrons. When a handsome young man offers her an unusual position as accompanying singer for a wind-up automaton that plays the piano, Nimira knows she’s taking a risk running off with a stranger but doubts life could be much worse than it is now.

The handsome, rich stranger - let’s call him Hollin - warns Nimira from the start that he has already dismissed several girls from the same position because the automaton is so lifelike that they won’t stop raving about the idea that it’s haunted. Hollin reassures her that no such thing is true, but does admit that the automaton was made by fairies and is exquisitely animated and convincing.

This book boasts wonderful characterization. Despite some familiar “roles,” Dolamore avoids any stock characters. They each feel realistically layered and complex, like real people. The relationships, too, feel unique and truthful rather than like the same standard dynamics we see again and again.

I’ll take half the blame for my only complaint: that I didn’t realize this is the first in a series. I’ve mentioned before that I like to know that detail when I start a book, because I have this sense of expectation for whether the story will wrap up by the final page or leave threads open for the next installment. I thought MAGIC UNDER GLASS was a standalone right until I reached the end and the story practically cut off halfway. I look forward to reading the next one, but wish I knew that going in.

This is a quick read, too, easily digested in one or a few sittings. The fast pace of the story and the engaging characters keep the reader fully attentive on each page, so you can just keep turning, turning, turning until you abruptly find the end.

With this young adult fantasy, Dolamore spins a mesmerizing tale of automatons and fairies, love and betrayal, music and politics. This is an atmospheric story that pulls you into Nimira’s world of magic and melodies.

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