Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

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Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Highly enjoyable magical fantasy about an exotic trouser girl who falls in love with a fairy prince trapped inside an automaton. Dolamore creates a vivid world in a highly romantic narrative that has some Gothic elements and a very traditional feel.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 1408802120

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Namira is a trouser girl - a music hall performer. In Lorinar, she's regarded as a faintly risque curiosity but at home in Tiansher it wasn't like this. Performers like her mother were feted and respected and Namira grew up in a palace. In Lorianar, she lives in poverty, performing for drunken fools who don't understand her art. And then suddenly, she's freed from the seedy music hall by Hollin Parry, a wealthy man and a member of Lorinar's Sorcerer Council. Parry has an automaton, a curiosity that plays the piano, and he wants Namira's unique voice to accompany it.

Rumour has it that the automaton is haunted, and Namira soon finds that it truly isn't all that it seems. It's not haunted, but it is enchanted and it traps the soul of Erris, a fairy prince. Namira soon falls in love and determines to rescue Erris - but dark forces are against her. The sorcerers are bent on war with the fairies and they will stop at nothing to achieve their aims...

Awww. I really enjoyed Magic Under Glass - it's a refreshing change from all those vampire fantasies that are flooding the market in the wake of the Twilight series. It's set in a fantasy country and it has a very Victorian feel, but it's highly romantic. It has more in common with Northanger Abbey and Jane Eyre than it does with Stephanie Meyer and it's like a breath of fresh air.

The world Dolamore creates is credible and tremendously vivid - I loved the idea of Namira as a faintly exotic trouser girl inserted into a very straitlaced and somewhat disapproving Lorinar society, only to realise that the exotic figure had all the worthy values of honesty and loyalty and courage, while the great and the good of her adopted country are revealed to be bullying, greedy and even violent.

And it's nicely written too, in fairly light prose that pays attention to detail but keeps the mind on the plot. It's accessible but not simple. Dolamore is good at the arresting sentence - The audience didn't understand a word we sang. They came to see our legs. - is the book's opening and I think it's just such a great hook: interesting, dry and very revealing of the central character's intelligence and wit.

Recommended for all girls who prefer Gothic fairy tales to urban grit.

My thanks to the good people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is a very different story featuring an automaton, while The Toymaker by Jeremy de Quidt is similarly Gothic and features a toymaker who is attempting to put a real heart into a doll. Knife by R J Anderson has a similarly traditonal feel, and an equally compelling love affair between a human and a supernatural creature.

Buy Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore at

Buy Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore at


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