Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Genre: Paranormal Young Adult
Release Date: 12/22/09 (paperback: 05/24/11)
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Nimira is a music-hall girl used to dancing for pennies. So when wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing accompaniment to a mysterious piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it will be the start of a better life.
In Parry's world, long-buried secrets are about to stir. Unsettling rumors begin to swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry’s involvement in a group of corrupt sorcerers for whom the rules of the living and dead are meant to be broken for greater power.
When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing fairy gentleman is trapped within the automaton, she is determined to break the curse. But even as the two fall into a love that seems hopeless, breaking the curse becomes a perilous race against time. Because it's not just the future of these star-crossed lovers that's at stake, but the fate of the entire magical world.
Plot: 4 Stars
The storyline behind this novel was very unique. It was a great mix of magical and paranormal elements with a touch of steampunk-esque elements. There was a lot of history between the sorcerers and the faeries, and while we did get a good amount of information, I hope it is expanded on in future novels. I really enjoyed the way the author tied singing and dancing into the novel. Nimira was a "trouser girl" who performed before she met Parry, who hired her to accompany his automation that played the piano. There were times when it seemed like Parry may have had ulterior motives, but only time (and future novels) will tell if my instincts about him are correct. When strange things start happening within the mansion, Nim keeps her head and investigates, and even figures out a way to communicate with the automaton. This novel kept me guessing throughout with it's twists and turns, and left me wanting the next novel ASAP. The world-building gave me a good feel for how the world worked, but I was a bit confused about the actual setting. It left me wondering if it was a country the author made up, or if I should be able to find it on a map. But as the story hooked me in, I stopped trying to figure it out and enjoyed the ride.
Pace: 4.5 Stars
Although this novel was a bit on the short side, it was the perfect length for this story. I could not put it down, and I finished reading in less than twenty-four hours. The events of the novel unfolded in a winding, twisty way that left me unable to put the novel down. Just when I thought I had figured an element of the plot out, everything was thrown upside-down. It was refreshing to not guess any of the plot lines, whether major or minor, beforehand.
Characters: 4 Stars
Nimira was a brave young woman. She was on her own in a new city, making a living to the best of her abilities. I was slightly worried for her when she left with Parry to live at his mansion and perform with his automaton. I grew up knowing you don't get into a vehicle with strangers. It amazed me that I was so invested in her character after only a few short chapters, that I was worried for her safety. As the story unfolded with the automaton, Nim's compassion really started to come out. All in all, she was a wonderful character. I wish we could've learned a bit more detail about her past and her family, but the details that were included painted an interesting picture. Although he played a very big role in the novel, I felt as though Parry stayed cloaked in mystery and we did not get to know him as well as we could have.
Cover: 4 Stars
This novel has had two covers in the US. For those of you who aren't aware, there was a white-washing scandal when the book first released (see cover below), and the publisher made a second cover (see beginning of review) after the story broke around the blogosphere last year. I personally have a copy of the book that has the first cover. Jaclyn is a local writer and had signed the stock at my local Borders, so I had to grab a copy. I'm not going to use this review as a place to rant about the white-washing over this cover (or any cover). If you take the cover model's skin tone out of the first cover, I think it does a good job of portraying the feel of the novel with her outfit. But the second cover is fantastic. The cover model is exactly how I had envisioned Nimira. And I loved that she was holding a key, since it is such an important part of the novel. The font choice and placement of the title work much better as well. The clockwork detail in the corner is very subtle, but a nice detail to include.
Overall: 4 Stars
Disclosure: I bought this novel for my own reading pleasure.