Magic Under Stone, by Jaclyn Dolamore (review)

July 16, 2012 fantasy, YA books 2

Book Description: For star-crossed lovers Nimira and Erris, there can be no happily ever after until Erris is freed from the clockwork form in which his soul is trapped. And so they go in search of the sorcerer Ordorio Valdana, hoping he will know how to grant Erris real life again. When they learn that Valdana has mysteriously vanished, it’s not long before Nimira decides to take matters into her own hands—and begins to study the sorcerer’s spell books in secret. Yet even as she begins to understand the power and limitations of sorcery, it becomes clear that freeing Erris will bring danger—if not out-and-out war—as factions within the faerie world are prepared to stop at nothing to prevent him from regaining the throne.

Category: YA Fantasy
Book source: Public library
It’s not often that I enjoy a sequel even more than the original, but this is one of those books.  I liked many things about Magic Under Glass, but hoped for more substance and depth in the sequel I was not disappointed: Magic Under Stone is a wonderful follow-up, and better than the first book in several ways. 
Magic Under Stone picks up some months after the end of Magic Under Glass, but little has changed for Nimira and Erris.  The fairy prince is still trapped in the clockwork body of an automaton, although his face and hands appear alive thanks to the intervention of the Queen of Night.  Erris and Nimira’s relationship has become increasingly tense, as the strain of Erris’s neither-alive-nor-dead state and their uncertainty about its eventual resolution takes a toll on both of them.
The book begins with the main characters’ journey to a town on the border with Fairyland, in search of Valdana, a magician who may be able to help Erris — and who, coincidentally, is Erris’s brotherin-law, having married one of his sisters.  Nim and Erris arrive at the border town only to find the magician gone; his spoiled and invalid half-fairy daughter, Violet, living a secret existence; and the local townsfolk both fearful and threatening.  When a jinn shows up, sent by the usurper king of Fairyland to find and destroy the clockwork Erris and kidnap Violet, Nim and her friend Anneliese must journey into Fairyland in search of them both.
As I hoped, Dolamore has clearly grown as a writer.  The characters in Magic Under Stone are more nuanced than in Magic Under Glass.  Dolamore deftly portrays the tensions between Erris and Nim, as well as Nim’s ambiguous feelings for Parry, the sorcerer for whom she once worked. Ifra, the jinn, is equally well-drawn, conflicted as he is about serving the  fairy king.  (The glimpses we get into jinn life and culture are fascinating; I hope we’ll see more of Ifra and his world in the future.)  On the other hand, the magician’s daughter, Violet, feels less three-dimensional than the other characters; her motivations are sometimes unclear and her actions at times seem arbitrary.  Perhaps we are supposed to attribute this to a combination of her isolation and the throes of adolescence, but given the depth of the other major characters, Violet’s relative lack of cohesion was jarring.
Magic Under Stone also offers more depth and detail in both setting and world-building than its predecessor did. Although the book is about the same length as Magic Under Glass, the world and the events that take place in it feel more more real.  As I mentioned, we get a glimpse of jinn society as well as a much better picture of Fairyland, which emerges as an intriguing combination of the mundane and the magical.  The plot is similarly richer and more complex.  I was thoroughly drawn in to the story and the world.
Stone presents a more satisfying conclusion than Glass, but there is ample room for a third sequel, since the underlying human-fairy conflict remains unresolved.  I really enjoyed reading this installment, and I look forward to seeing what Dolamore comes up with next!  Meanwhile, I’ll have to content myself with hunting down a copy of Between the Sea and Sky, her mermaid book. 

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