Skip to main content

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

So I'm awfully late getting around to this one. But I could just never find a copy and then with all the cover issues it was in and out of stock everywhere for what seemed like ages. It sounded like a book I wanted to read right off the bat, despite the issues with cover and availability. Finally my family took pity on me and gave it to me for my birthday awhile back. And now that it's been nominated for the Cybils, I decided it was high time to find out what all the fuss was about. Magic Under Glass is Jaclyn Dolamore's debut novel and it resides somewhere in the realm of fantasy meets steampunk meets historical fiction. For the record--a realm I love very, very much. I've read quite a mixed batch of reviews on it around the blogosphere, but I was nevertheless fairly excited still to find out for myself what lay between the pages of this slim but intriguing book.


Nimira is one of the so-called trouser girl. Young women who sing and dance in rather seedy dance halls across Lorinar for two cents an admission. Fleeing her lush homeland of Tiansher after her family's ruin, Nim seeks out the fabled dance halls of foreign Lorinar, where the magic and success she imagines falls so very short of her dreams. Trouser girls are out of favor and looked down upon. And it is not until three years later that Nim spies her ticket out when a young gentleman by the name of Hollin Parry walks into the hall and makes her an offer she can't refuse. Come sing along with his piano-playing automaton and live a life of ease. Never mind that the automaton might be haunted, or that there's quite a bit Hollin's not telling her, about both his history and his estate. Nim jumps at the chance, determined not to be put off by a clockwork man like so many other girls Hollin hired were. After all, he's just a contraption of wood and gears made to look like a man. Stick the silver key in his back, wind him up, and sing along. What could be simpler than that?

Magic Under Glass is an easy, read-in-one-sitting sort of book. I enjoyed the world Ms. Dolamore created, with its impending war between faeries and humans and I loved the descriptions of Erris the automaton and his shifting eyes, his skillful fingers, and his inability to move beyond a careful set of scripted motions. There was frankly a wild amount of potential in this storyline. And I do mean wild potential. I loved the stolen practice sessions in which Nim sat next to Erris and decoded his stilted messages and longed for the ability to converse normally and at length. I loved the idea of the faerie court in uproar and the mysterious hints at necromancy. But unfortunately, none of it came to fruition for me. What a disappointment it was, as the characters stayed firmly two-dimensional, the villain painfully uninteresting, and the relationship between Nim and Erris set up so wonderfully but remaining completely undeveloped. I finished the book merely out of a sense of obligation and one last lingering hope that it might pull out in the end. But all I got was slapdash characterization and a bewilderingly hurried resolution, if you can call it that. The whole thing felt like a synopsis, if you will, and not the final work. I realize there is a sequel in the works, but this novel needed so much more depth and breadth to it to keep me going.


Linkage
The Book Smugglers Review
Bookshelves of Doom Review
Brizmus Blogs Books Review
GalleySmith Review
Ink and Paper Review
Liyanaland Review
Presenting Lenore Review
Tea Mouse Review

Comments

  1. Too bad this didn't work out for you. I'm glad you reviewed it because the premise looks promising but I probably won't pick it up anymore based on your feedback.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one more :(

    Since it had great potential, and some small parts you did enjoy, do you think you'll give the sequel a try?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Chachic, it was just such a let down after the awesome setup. *sigh*

    Michelle, I don't think so. Everything felt so flimsy to me I don't think I'm up for the sequel.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

You Might Also Like

Review | If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

It's been years since I picked up a Mhairi McFarlane novel, and I'm not really sure why that is. I liked It's Not Me, It's Youwell enough (it's obvious she's quite a witty writer), but something about the execution felt off and I think I let that keep me from diving deeper into her backlist. Then came an offer to review her upcoming title If I Never Met You, and something about this one seemed to call out to me. As though it was time. As though Laurie and Jamie might be the ones. Spoiler alert: It was and they were. It was the perfect read for a couple of dreary, grey January days. While not perhaps as bubbly as I've Got Your Number, I would definitely recommend it to readers who enjoyed that novel. They share a business setting, two individuals who are more than they know themselves to be, and a wonderfully slow burn romance. Readers who love Sarra Manning and Beth O'Leary's The Flatshareshould also take note.
Comedy was tragedy plus time, but the…

Bibliocrack Review | Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

There's really very little to say, isn't there? I hope you are well, wherever you are. I hope that your loved ones are. I hope that you're finding small ways to stay afloat, to remain connected to something, someone, someplace (real or fictional) that sustains you. Dark and difficult times, indeed. I've rather been holding on to this review. I felt so much, so quickly, so irrevocably for this book that it rapidly became hard to talk about to anyone who hadn't read it. And so I hope I can do it justice, just barely enough justice that, if you haven't, you'll run right out and do so. Now is the perfect time. I feel strongly that this book is what you need in your life at this moment. And so. You might want to prepare yourselves. I'm about to wax rhapsodic. But first, and introductory excerpt:
At the end of that session, Fay said, What if it's not what happened with this boy you regret, it's you? It's the you who you left behind. It's who …

Angie’s Best Books of the Decade

I am winded, you guys. Winded from laboring over this list. This is the first time I've attempted to cobble together a Best Books of the Decade list, and I can't say I'll be up to it for another ten years or so. But my, I couldn't resist the challenge (or profound pleasure, if we're being honest). I kept trying to winnow it down, kept forcing myself to be ruthless. Like somehow I could (or should) keep it to a top ten (flat impossible) or at least a top twenty-five (who are we kidding?). But after bidding those constraints good riddance, I really did press myself to take a hard, clear look at what hurts (to mangle my favorite Hemingway quote). Because these novels hurt in the best way. Each entry on this list is a five-star book in my books. Which means I wouldn't change a single thing about a single one of them. They are the ones I call perfect when I recommend them to friends and strangers. They are the ones I have read and reread over the past ten years and…