Magic Under Glass blends elements of fantasy, steampunk, and the gothic novel: orphan girl swept into a high social milieu, mysterious and romantic sorcerer, hidden wife, enchanted clockwork automaton, missing fairy prince. Dolamore melds all of these into a cohesive, intriguing, but oddly spare whole.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. I love the story line, and it has the merit of being very different than the plethora of YA vampire and werewolf novels which followed in the wake of the Twilight series’ popularity. Nimira is a well-drawn and sympathetic heroine. The man-trapped-inside-an-automaton concept is fresh and works well. Dolamore handles the mysterious sorcerer, secret-in-the-attics, and murder mystery elements well. But while I enjoyed the book, I found myself continually wishing for more depth, more detail. I have the sense as I read that both are there in Dolamore’s head, yet for some unknown reason, didn’t make it into the final draft. The romance seems compressed or inadequately explored, and the ending comes rather abruptly. Were these an editor’s decisions, to keep the book more “YA”? Or merely inexperience on Dolamore’s part? (I believe it was her first book.)
I reread Magic Under Glass this week, in anticipation of reading the sequel (Magic Under Stone.) If anything, I liked it more the second time around, but I still feel as though it’s the bones of a really great book. I’m hoping Magic Under Stone puts a little more meat on those bones.
Update: I reviewed Magic Under Stone here on 7/16/2012.)