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.
I must say that I'm glad this book got a new cover. The old one is lovely, but completely wrong for the book and characters. This one is much more fitting. This book needs to be removed from the controversy and the covers. I enjoyed this one despite everything that I'd heard. The setting was intriguing, a combination of history and fantasy that enthralled me.
The characters were nice. Nothing amazing, but they did well. They didn't jump right off the page at me, however, there is at least another book for them to deepen. Also, the relationships should gain some more complexity, which I felt was missing in this book. The plot moved along well, and had some elements that I found to be rather surprising. I wasn't able to predict everything and that I enjoyed.
Overall this was a decent debut. The novel shows promise as a beginning of a series and just as a first effort. It works as a nice Victorian-ish read for summer. It's just light enough to be fun, but not pure fluff. I would recommend this to someone who wanted a nice romantic era fantasy with enough of a blend of the foreign and the familiar.