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.
Why it’s my type: Jane Eyre-esque haunting intrigue, strong female protagonist and secondary characters.
Memorable bit(s): “‘I–I–that is’ They were all looking at me, the sorcerers, with suspicious or incredulous faces. They didn’t want to believe a word I said.
‘Very impressive,’ the blonde sorcerer quipped. ‘Perhaps the little savage can’t find the words in our language.'”
Nimira isn’t white. Though I’m fairly new (in a way, returning) to youth literature, I don’t recall coming across many, if any non-white protagonists. Now, Katniss of the massively popular Hunger Games series is supposed to be olive-skinned. Though (as I remember) she is never degraded for being such, like Nimira is here. Nimira’s race and class is frequently emphasized, and never forgotten. It’s interesting that various covers for the book depict her as white, even blonde. And it’s a refreshing wake-up call to realize that characters like Nimira should be explored more (and more truthfully) in youth literature, and perhaps literature at large.
Recommendation: Those who enjoyed Jane Eyre, and/or perhaps more recently April Lindner’s retelling, Jane, will enjoy this tale of love and a large estate. Though this gothic romance is much more than that.
Publish date: February 1st 2010 by Bloomsbury.