Magic Under Glass

Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , | Posted on 6:44 AM

Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

Nimira grew up in a world of lush gardens, court intrigue, and the luxury of the palace. But after her mother's death and her father's debts, she finds herself on a dingy stage, singing the ballads of her homeland to a rabble of commoners who see her as an exotic sideshow. A trousergirl.

Not exactly what she had dreamed of, growing up.

However, Nim is resilient and determined, and she keeps her eyes fixed on her goal. Even if she could never compare to her own mother's brilliant performances, Nim wants to make a name for herself. She wants to earn true respect for her art, and make her audience recognize her as more than just a novelty.

Trouble is, Nim's career seems to have stalled. Until a Mysterious Gentleman appears in her audience and offers her a new job: singing accompaniment to a fairy-made automaton, to an audience of Lorinar's upper set.

There are a few problems with this scenario. For one, Nim isn't all sure that she wants to put herself in the hands of a stranger, having so little legal and financial protection herself, to become basically another set-piece to an exotic show -- the Machine and the Heathen. For another, Mr. Parry is said to have a tragic past, including a dead wife.

For a third thing, the automaton is said to be haunted.

Nim says yes anyway, and then things get complicated.

I enjoyed this book, especially for how Nim managed to maintain her autonomy and Get Things Done -- not by rebelling against her limited position and smashing things up, but by working within her constraints. This showed control and strength of character far more impressive than a "can't hold me down" tantrum ever would (not to mention: far more effective).

It was a bit sparse on supporting character details, and the world-building is not done, but I expect that shall be covered in later installments. There must, of course, be later installments. I'd have liked more solid character building and setting work, but you can't help but love and admire Nim.

So, I may be tepid on the overall book, but I am Team Nim all the way.

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