Magic Under Glass. Jaclyn Dolamore. 2009. [December 2009] Bloomsbury. 225 pages.
The audience didn't understand a word we sang. They came to see our legs. As the posters said, TROUSER GIRLS FROM THE EXOTIC LAND OF TASSIM! We were billed just under the acrobats and the trained dogs.
Nimira, a dark-skinned beauty, is a trouser girl. But not for long. Not after the mysterious stranger, a sorcerer at that, Hollin Parry, offers her another job. Is it a better job? Only time will tell. But Nimira, or Nim as she is called, has been hired to sing with a piano-playing automaton. She's not the first young woman to be offered the job--or the first young woman to have accepted it. You see, he warns her, the others have been skittish. Claimed that the automaton is haunted or cursed. Is this beautiful (or I suppose I should say handsome) automaton crafted by the fairies haunted? Nimira is more than willing to take a chance. After all, even if he is haunted, even if he is a bit spooky, what harm could he possibly do her? How could an automaton be dangerous?
So Nimira joins Parry's household. And it's a strange one. With somewhat of a gothic feel to it like Rebecca or Jane Eyre. As the mystery unfolds, the reader is drawn into a strange and exciting world. A dangerous world.
I liked this one. I can't say that I love it. [The romance didn't quite work for me.] But I would definitely recommend it to readers who love YA fantasy or YA romance.
Now. The cover. The unfortunate cover. Bloomsbury's cover model doesn't look much like Nimira. Does she? Is she dark-skinned? Is she exotic? Nimira is beautiful. She has a great voice. But there are some who would look down on her anyway. Who wouldn't want her as part of their society, their company. She is exotic, foreign, altogether other. Nimira deals with prejudice. (The party scene illustrates this well, I thought.)
Is this the best representation they could find for this strong heroine? Why go with a white girl, a white woman, when the story is about a person of color? Is it a case of the people behind-the-scenes not being familiar with the book, the story, the characters? Or is it more than that? In a world where people judge books by their covers, what are the publishers really trying to say, to convey, to readers by whitewashing the cover? This cover definitely has a lot of people talking.
ETA: Bloomsbury is changing the cover. Details here.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews