Amazon | Goodreads
Fantasy, 291 pages
February 28th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA
Magic Under Stone continues the story of Nimira, a dancing girl from a foreign land, and Erris, a fairy prince trapped in a clockwork automaton's body. I mentioned in my review of the first book, Magic Under Glass, that I was surprised by how much I liked it - I thought it was going to be fluff, but I actually really connected to it. Ever since then, Nimira and Erris have been popping into my head, and I've been waiting to see how their story finishes and whether they'll get their happy ever after.
So let's get into it, shall we? There were a lot of new characters introduced in this book, which was essentially a complete reversal from Magic Under Glass, which felt very insular. [I mean, yes, there were more than 3 characters in MUG, but for most of it, it felt like the key 3 were the only ones who existed.] Even though Magic Under Stone is set in an out of the way place, the outside world intrudes in unexpected and tumultuous ways, and new major players are introduced fairly regularly, making it feel like it's finally time for Nim and Erris to step into the light. I liked this; it's something subtle, something I didn't really think about until I thought about it (does that make sense?), but it gives an overall cast to the story that fits this stage of their lives.
The new characters themselves were interesting. I was all prepared to dislike everyone of them (for no reason other than they were taking my focus away from Nim and Erris), but I actually enjoyed them all. Ifra, the reluctant jinn (ie genie) was probably my favorite for the simple fact that he best exhibits one of my favorite things - gray area. He is capable of really bad things, and sometimes even wishes for them, but he is at his core a good, maybe even somewhat naive person, and he wants so badly to just be himself. I liked his complexity and his struggles. Violet, the unwitting fairy princess, was a bit of a mixed bag for me in that she's whiny and bratty and I really wanted to see someone kick her - but the fact that people called her on her immaturity and brattiness actually made it work, and I grew to see her for the lonely, lost girl she was. Most unexpectedly interesting, though, was definitely Violet's dad, Ordorio. And the thing is, I can't really tell you why I found him so interesting because it would be a major spoiler, but his was a really interesting story, and potentially really heartbreaking. Though Ordorio's past and life were very lightly touched upon, and his character sort of rushes everything along when he appears on the scene (which felt abrupt to me), what is revealed about him was just sort of lovely and bittersweet and I think would make such an interesting story in its own right.
For the already established characters...again, it's a mixed bag. Nimira comes into her own in this, and decides that she's done being walked all over and is ready to stop being a damsel and start fighting. You know I love this. She starts discovering her potential and her power, and is more analytical of her life, and interesting as a result. But she's not the sole focus anymore, which makes for a different read than I was expecting. Same with Erris - he's not the same mute clockwork boy anymore. One thing that I think may turn some readers off is a certain sullenness on Erris' part, and a tendency to want to provoke him on Nimira's. For me, it made sense given their situation, and I think it allowed them to address some things and truly get to know each other in a way that tapping out messages on a piano wouldn't have allowed for. It was a necessary step, but those who are looking for things to be hunky-adorkable between the two are going to be a bit disappointed. Some of the charm and aww is gone, but in its place is the potential for a more mature and nuanced relationship - one in which Nimira has understandable doubts and thoughts, both for the situation and for her age.
Any complaints I always had were pretty much the same as they always are with Dolamore's writing - the end just felt too rushed. Having read all of her books in ARC form, I'm not sure if this is something that tends to get smoothed out in the final versions, but I always feel like the snowball gets rolling a little too fast in the end and gets away from her a bit. There was some good tension and the feeling that everything was about to get really hairy, which I love, but in the end, she just sells her stories short by, well, writing them short. Just a little more stretch, a little more worry and room for growth/development would make them feel more complete and...impactful. That being said, for the first 2/3 of the story or so, I really felt some growth and some new...heft, I guess? coming from Dolamore. Other than the bit of extreme insta-love, it felt more adult and almost bittersweet than her other books.
[And speaking of the insta-love ~ it didn't make me want to claw at people the way most cases of IL do, but I certainly would have liked a little more mistrust on Violet's part, regarding the jinn, given the way things went down. A little longing to know each other, and a feeling of kinship for the similarities in their lives would have been enough. A hint of love-to-come was all that was really needed.]
And thus the story of Nimira and Erris comes to an end. There are enough threads left dangling that there's room for Dolamore to write a novella or two down the line (here's hoping!), and I'm glad that everything wasn't tied up with an absurdly large bow. And even though N&Es story is done, the world Dolamore has created can certainly hold a fair number of people - and all of their stories - in it, so who knows?
If you'd like to read about how Jaclyn developed her genie/jinn stories, make sure to check out her guest post here. And because I love you, I'm giving away a copy of Magic Under Stone here (ends 5/5).
And if you're so inclined, you can check out what I thought of her companion novel, Between the Sea and Sky, here.
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