Magic Under Glass
By Jaclyn Dolamore
Publication date: January 2010
Rating: **** 1/2
Nimira thinks her fortunes have changed for the better when she takes a job with sorcerer Hollin Parry to sing with his piano playing automaton. When she hears that previous singers have fled the job believing that the automaton is haunted, Nimira dismisses the rumors and determines that she will prove to her new employer that she can handle the job. Then she meets the automaton and while practicing, he starts trying to communicate with her. Nimira finds out that the automaton is actually a fairy named Erris who has been cruelly trapped within the body of the automaton. He enlists Nimira's help in setting him free but she must find an elusive sorcerer who may hold the secret to Erris's freedom before it is too late.
Magic Under Glass is set in a Victorian-like world where magic is part of the every day experience yet magical creatures like fairies are not trusted. Nimira is from Tiansher, a country where people value music, dancing, and the arts. She is made to feel out of place in Lorinar where she is ridiculed as a "trouser girl" and for her darker skin. Hollin Parry seems to value Nimira and her talent and he defends her against the rude treatment of the other Lorinarians. Nimira may be treated well at Parry's home of Vestenveld but there are strange occurrences that unsettle her and the menace of dark magic hovers. This sense of the gothic adds to the suspensefulness of the novel as does the creepy sorcerer Mr. Smollings. Nimira's friendship with Erris happens quickly and in no time at all the two of them are in love even though they can only communicate through the tapping of the piano keys.
Overall I really enjoyed Magic Under Glass although it does have some minor flaws. I like how the novel examines racism, prejudice, and personal responsibility. Nimira grows as a person through her interactions with Erris, Hollin Parry, and the other characters. She examines her decisions and the way she looks at herself. I do wish that more time was devoted to developing the relationship between Erris and Nimira and the ending begs for a sequel. I would like to see more world building as well including more about the fairies and the sorcerers. I hope that Jaclyn Dolamore will write a sequel so all my questions will be answered! For a first novel this was a good read. I would recommend Magic Under Glass to fans of Jessica Day George (Princess of the Midnight Ball), Shannon Hale (Princess Academy), and Julie Berry (The Amaranth Enchantment). I look forward to seeing more from this author!