Review: The Paper Magician – Charlie N. Holmberg

the paper magicianCeony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

An imaginative debut. I really enjoyed the depiction of a rather unique magic system, whereby magicians are bonded to an element – paper, glass, metal, rubber, plastics, etc. It was especially intriguing as the author showed the potential for each element – in this instance, we get to see the intricacies of paper – everything from beautifully animated paper birds to fans that can be used as a defensive measure.

Ceony as a character is a sweet, hardworking and ambitious girl, who while isn’t exactly charmed at having to bond to paper, still makes the best of it and is determined to excel. She recognises her own sometimes bratty behaviour and makes amends for it, and certainly shows her mettle (pardon the pun) and bravery when embarking on the rescue of Mage Thane.

“When I think about it . . . I guess I’ve just taken what bits and pieces I felt were right for me and made my own faith with them. Faith is a very personal thing, really. Just because you don’t meet with a group of people once a week who believe everything exactly the way you do doesn’t mean you don’t believe in something.”

While the concept was delightful, I felt like the writing could have done with some work – certain repetitions and phrasings stood out as a little odd, and there was some anachronistic language going on – e.g. “Dibs on the cookie” and “Weird. Thanks.” – these phrases would not have been used in historical time in which the novel was set.

However, despite these criticisms, I think this series certainly has potential, and will definitely be looking out for the sequel.

ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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