Magic Under Glass, by Jaclyn Dolamore, (Bloomsbury, 2010)

Nimira left her homeland to seek her fortunes, but instead found work only as a trouser girl, singing the songs of her youth while men ogled her exotic charms. When an opportunity to better herself by singing accompaniment for a clockwork piano-player arises, she takes it, never looking back. Soon she discovers that the clockwork man is alive, inhabited by the spirit of a fairy prince, and a variety of powerful people want it for their own. As Nimira, falling in love with the fairy, seeks to undo the curse imprisoning him, she’s drawn further into the enigmatic schemes of sorcerers and madmen. Evoking the rich strangeness of the Victorian era and setting it in a world where magic is subtle and pervasive, this marks a brilliant debut for Dolamore. Nimira’s a fascinating, sympathetic character, and her unusual origins make for a breath of fresh air.

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