Guest Reviewer: Maggie Stiefvater


Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver is our Book of the Month here at yaReads. When Maggie took time our from her ridiculously busy schedule to write us a guest review, she confirmed our suspicions that she’s a real life Wonder Woman. She chose a book called Magic Under Glass by debut author Jaclyn Dolamore. Enjoy!

The audience didn’t understand a word we sang. They came to see our legs. As the posters said TROUSER GIRLS FROM THE LAND OF TASSIM! We were billed just underneath the acrobats and the trained dogs.

So begins Magic Under Glass, a debut novel by Jaclyn Dolamore (Bloomsbury, Dec ’09). It follows Nimira, a music hall girl, a dark-skinned oddity in light-skinned Lorinar, as she leaves the security of the music hall for employment with the mysterious and dashing Hollins Parry. Mr. Parry wishes to retain her services to sing with a handsome automaton — a man-shaped clockwork machine that plays the piano when wound (sexy, right?). Apparently Mr. Parry has had some problems with retaining girls in the past as they insist the automaton is haunted. They claim it mumbles to them, which is admittedly terrifying, and then they run away.

Nimira, however, is no wimp. So when the clockwork man does his mumbling thing for her, she doesn’t go running to Mr. Parry. Instead, in a completely refreshing sequence where she doesn’t spend pages agonizing over what she really saw (a pet peeve of mine in fantasy), she gets over her shock and disbelief and settles down to business: finding out what . . . or who . . . the automaton is. And what he is a angst-puppy trapped in cogs and springs. In other words, my brand of fun.

The result is a whimsical, smart novel that is sort of like a cross between Howl’s Moving Castle and Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell. The details are lovely, the voice consistent, the characters complex. And Nimira is refreshingly clever throughout. The ending is a bit muddled and weirdly paced, but it wasn’t enough to put me off my game. My biggest complaint was how short the book was — I could’ve been happily entertained for twice as long.

My verdict? I really enjoyed this novel now, but I have to tell you that, as a teen, I would’ve married this thing and had little clockwork babies. Highly recommended.

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