Magic Under Stone, by Jaclyn Dolamore

I quite enjoyed Magic Under Glass, by Jaclyn Dolamore (my thoughts), which told the story of how Nimira, a dancing girl with dreams of a better future, rescues Erris, a fairy prince, from a clockwork prison (he is the star of a clockwork tableau, forced to play a mechanical piano with mechanical hands when wound up). Unfortunately for both Nimira and Erris, the rescuing that took place in that first book only did half the job.

In Magic Under Stone (Bloomsbury, 2012), Erris may have been restored to autonomous life, but he's still trapped in a clockwork body. And Nimira loves him, and is sad that a. he's still a machine who needs to be wound up every morning and b. is distracted by his situation, and the unresolved issue of who did it to him (and is therefore not focusing on being in love with her).

Solving those two problems is the matter with which book 2 deals, with the pleasant addition of a djinn, bound to serve the current fairy ruling family. Nim and Erris have travelled to the remote home of sorcerer that they hope can help them, only to find that he is not at home. His daughter, however, and the young chatelaine of the house, are still in residence...and the daughter, in particular, has her own role to play in the machinations of fairy politics (especially with regard to the mission on which the djinn is sent).

It's a rather peaceful, slow, character-rich book, for all the intrigue and danger lurking in the fairy realm, and dangers from the human side of things as well. And that was fine with me--I'm happy to read about interesting people stuck together in a remote house, learning magic and trying to figure out what to do about their problems! And I liked the djinn, who was perhaps the most zesty of the characters, with problems of his own (of the sort related to magical servitude). The romance aspect of this book was a tad frustrating (for Nim as well as the reader), though the resurgence of the love triangle from book three did give it some energy. And the ending packed on a hefty dose of active adventuring and excitement, which was a nice contrast to the slower beginning.

So all in all, a satisfying read--not one I'd say was a must-read, but still one I was perfectly content to spend time with. And I'm pleased that it's another for my list of multicultural sci fi/fantasy, what with Nim being from a South Asian-equivalent country (as she is shown on the lovely cover).

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