by Jaclyn Dolamore
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Nimira is a foreign music-hall girl forced to dance for mere pennies. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with a piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new and better life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets are beginning to stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry's involvement with a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. Then Nimira discovers the spirit of a fairy gentleman named Erris is trapped inside the clockwork automaton, waiting for someone to break his curse. The two fall into a love that seems hopeless, and breaking the curse becomes a race against time, as not just their love, but the fate of the entire magical world may be in peril.
(synopsis from Goodreads)
It bothers me when a synopsis doesn't match the book it's about. Had this book been about everything that the synopsis promised, it might have garnered another star from me. But there really wasn't anything about "a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport". That was just a misleading tease. (Nimira wasn't forced to dance for pennies, either; she left home and chose a career as a "trouser girl". She was hardly a slave; she wouldn't have left that life so easily and set the story in motion if she had been.)
The main concept of the plot -- that of a fairy prince's spirit trapped within an automaton -- was fairly original, but there were also hints of classics like Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden in the story. Unfortunately, those allusions didn't always work. Without giving too much away, I'll just say that I felt that Hollin was not nearly as honourable as Edward Rochester in a similar situation; I lost a lot of respect for him and disliked his selfish actions.
There was also some insta-love and a forced quasi-love triangle. I don't think we got to see enough of Nimira and Erris's interactions to see why she was falling for him. In fact, I couldn't help but wonder if what she was feeling wasn't love, but pity (since their conversations mainly focused on Erris's trapped state of being).
While the writing was decent and the story was interesting and flowed fairly well, there were some things that seemed sudden and inconsistent. This is supposedly a land of magic and sorcerers, and yet they don't use much magic at all. They even carry pistols to protect themselves! And then there was a point in the story where one character started throwing magic around, when there had been no hints that she was a sorceress at all.
Some of these problems could probably have been solved if the book was a little longer. As it was, the ending was unsatisfactory and merely set up the action for the sequel. I think that it may have worked better if this book and the sequel had been combined into one longer novel with two parts.
All in all, it wasn't an awful read, but it definitely started off better than it finished. I'm not sorry I read it, but I'm also not sure if I want to bother with the sequel.
Overall: 3.29 out of 5