- Magic under Glass
Following her mother's death and her father's subsequent financial ruin, Nimira finds herself in an unfriendly foreign land, dancing in a music hall for mere pennies. When a mysterious magician offers her shelter at his lavish mansion and a hefty salary to accompany a musical automaton, she grabs at the chance, dismissing the rumors of ghosts and trickery that surround the magician's estate. Soon, however, she learns that the automaton is actually a fairy prince trapped and cursed, a state that the reigning sorcerer's council would prefer to maintain in order to keep their control over the fairy world. Readers drawn in by the evocative cover of a romantically lit corseted girl will not be disappointed by the story's echoes of Victorian romances, and although the setting is the imaginary land of Lorinar, references to cobblestoned streets, elegant ladies, lecherous old men, and plenty of lurking secrets give it all the atmospheric appeal of nineteenth-century London. Nimira is likable as the strong-willed heroine intent on making a better life for herself, but the story falls a bit flat when she discovers the automaton's secret. The love between her and the fairy prince is never quite explained, and thus her motivation for risking a secure future for the sake of their relationship seems rather implausible, given that Nimira is, above all else, a practical girl. The ending is also less than satisfying, punishing a character who, in light of the vast conspiracy Nimira uncovers, seems like small potatoes and giving no real conclusion to the fairy prince's ordeal although certainly making plenty of room for a sequel. Despite these flaws, however, the book offers plenty of romance and intrigue, and readers not quite ready for the weight of Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, BCCB 5/04, etc.) may do well to start here.