After her family's fall from favor at court, Nimira left her home country to seek her fortune. Despite her dreams of sweeping success, the only steady work she's been able to find is as a dancer in a run-down music hall. So when a wealthy sorcerer offers her a job singing accompaniment to a automaton pianist, she disregards her second thoughts and takes the leap.
Once she begins her new job, though, she quickly realizes that there is much more going on at Vestenveld than she had been led to believe -- not the least of which is that the automaton is actually the prison of a trapped fairy gentleman.
Magic Under Glass features a suspicious (in action as well as personality) housekeeper, ghosts, two suitors of very different types, a rambling house with a locked wing, the possibility of war, and a couple of genuinely swoon-worthy moments. It shares plot points with Jane Eyre and features a world that will appeal to readers who enjoy their fantasy with a historical fiction flavor. Issues of discrimination and -isms play in without being overbearing, and I do think it will be popular with younger YAs looking for magic and romance and mystery.
That said, it didn't do a whole lot for me personally. You'd think, with all of the above, that it would have -- but while it had a bunch of super-fun components, it lacked... sparkle. The characters were stock: Nimira was The Plucky Heroine; Erris, the Romantic Lead; Hollis, the Nice But Spineless Secondary Romantic Lead; Miss Rashten, the Henchwoman; Mr. Smollings, the Villainous Villain. Despite the many dangers Nimira faced, the many mysteries she had to unravel, and the short time frame in which she had to resolve them, I never actually felt a sense of tension or urgency, and I didn't find the intrigue very... intriguing. I felt that the ending was very rushed -- so rushed that I actually double-checked the page numbers to be sure that there wasn't a missing section -- and that slapdash feeling made me feel especially irritated when I realized that it's clearly the first in a series.
Book source: Review copy from the publisher.
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