Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stranger In a Strange Land: Magic Under Glass
BarockSchloss, CC license
I moved up a few years for my next summer kidlit book, Jaclyn Dolamore's Magic Under Glass, which is aimed at I think middle grades. The characters are in their late teens or early twenties and act as adults, without any chaperons or protection.

I found the world building very interesting; at first I thought it was set in the London of Burnett's A Little Princess, but Dolamore is using a copy of that, called Lorinar -- close but different, which explains the Council of Sorcerers. The main character comes from a distant country, possibly patterned after Thailand, and her different appearance causes the same condescension and prejudice that it would in Burnett's London. So Dolamore gives a familiar setting but also has the ability to insert her own magic and political changes -- women wear corsets and long dresses, but there is a kingdom of fairies behind the wall to the west.

The protagonist, Namira, is an outsider so that she isn't complicit in the problems of the country and also has the chance to explain things to the reader. She's young enough to be sympathetic, but old enough to work and travel on her own, and to understand that marriage isn't just for love but also for economic security. The problems she overcomes are large enough to be interesting but still believable, and I'll keep this book for my eighth grader who will probably also want the sequel.

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