Magic Under Glass
by Jaclyn Dolamore
I first heard of Magic Under Glass reading the review over at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy. Then, Liz B. followed up with some comments about the cover, which sealed the deal for me to check it out. The protagonist, Nimira, describes herself as dark, yet the original cover (the publisher since changed it) showed a definitely white girl. Actually, I thought the old cover wasn't very representative of the story as well as the character. But if you haven't seen the comments about the cover, and covers in general where a white cover model is chosen when the character is definitely not, head over there and check out the links, too.
So other than the cover, one of the first things I noticed is that I had chosen to read two books with automata right after the other, which was a little weird. Granted, Magic Under Glass is a completely different story from The Affinity Bridge. Nimira is a "trouser girl," who sings and dances to make her living, not that it's much of one. During one of her performances, a gentleman notices her and speaks to her. Hollin Parry, a sorcerer, offers her a job singing along with an automaton who plays the piano; the girls he has hired before left believing it was haunted. Indeed, the first time Nimira winds up the automaton, it/he begins moaning, apparently trying to communicate with her. Could it really be haunted, and if so, what is Nimira to do?
I finished the book in nearly one sitting. Nim is a well-drawn character, an immigrant in a land that doesn't think highly of her people, but she is determined to make her own way. Unfortunately, I only got a sense of connection with her as a character and not any of the others, though that may be partially because Nimira is the first-person narrator. There are hints of the broader world, such as politics between sorcerers and fairies that were enough to tantalize me in wanting to know more about this place, but never deeply explored. The ending hints at the possibility of more story to come, and I hope there will be.