Book Talk – MAGIC UNDER GLASS by Jaclyn Dolamore

Listen – I don’t like much.  Really, it’s true.  I used to post many (and then again) a review over at AgentQuery, but my mad posting reached a lull, and then… nothing. People noticed, and asked, “Why?”  Well, I don’t think it’s good politics to post a bad review, and I haven’t read much that I’ve liked lately.  Liked enough to donate my writing time to getting the word out there and telling others they need to go get this book.  Like, now.  That drought has ended.

A love triangle, a lost prince, a madwoman in the attic, possession, dark secrets kept quiet through murder and machinations, political intrigue, brewing war… and a living soul trapped forever inside the clockwork body of an automaton.  Have I got your attention?

Recently, I had a student check out MAGIC UNDER GLASS by Jaclyn Dolamore.  And it had her attention – to the point that I had to say her name three times to get her to look up at me.

BBC: Didn’t you check that book out yesterday?
Student: *glassy eyed, still stuck in BookLand* Huh? What?
BBC: That book – you just checked it out yesterday, now you’re like, three-quarter’s done.
Student: *clearly wishing I would stop talking to her so she can be ALL the way done, but is too polite to say so* Yeah, it’s really good.
BBC: OK I’ll leave you to it.
Student: *already back in BookLand* K

Well, you know what they say about curiosity and cats… so six hours later I was 1) done with the book and 2) completely understanding her reaction.

Dolamore’s eerily familiar world – part Gothic Victorian, part Faerie – pulls the reader in and won’t let you go.  I don’t know if a lyrical novel has even been termed a tour de force, but I’d like to apply that here.  With deft touches the reader is in love with Nimira’s voice – our female main character, a strong noble-blooded girl from the land of Tassim, who fate has cheated of a life of ease.  Forced to play upon her skills as a dancing “trouser girl” in a second rate show, Nim catches the eye of Hollin, a man of money and an accomplished sorcerer who looks to fill the hole in his heart left by the death of his wife.

Nim agrees to his proposition that she come with Hollin to his estate, presumably to sing alongside an automaton he has recently purchased at an estate sale, and from whom other singers have run from in panic, claiming that it is haunted… or possessed.  Nim stifles her own fear the first time she sings with the automaton and it looks at her with intelligence, and attempts to speak.  Using the piano keyboard, she works out a way to communicate with the automaton, or rather – Erris, the faerie prince whose spirit is trapped within, bound by dark magic.  Her own alienation and captivity serves as a cornerstone for their relationship, which blooms into the impossible.

Nim would risk all – losing her position and safety alongside Hollin, exposing herself and Erris to the roaming eye of a political figure whose scheming brought about the deaths of Erris entire noble family years ago, calling forth the spirits of dark magic – in order to bring Erris true life, or at least, a true death to escape his mechanical prison.

MAGIC UNDER GLASS recently came out in paperback – and by recently I mean, May 24th.  If you’ve been looking for something to revive your love affair with YA, magic, or just reading in general – I think Dolamore’s got you covered. ; )

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