Review: The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy #1) – Charlie N. Holmberg

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copy provided through Net Galley in exchange for review

Summary:

Ceony 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.

From the imaginative mind of debut author Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician is an extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that will delight readers of all ages.

Review:

Amazon is pushing the heck out of this book. I’ve seen it on Amazon. On Book Gorilla. Heck, it’s even been featured as an ad on my Kindle. It’s everywhere.  So when another blogger alerted me to the fact that this, and it’s sequel The Glass Magician were available on Net Galley, I decided to give it a go.

And the verdict?

I’m….kind of confused, actually.

On the hand, Ceony is definitely are narrator. We see the world through her eyes and interpret events through her reactions. And yet, this really doesn’t feel like Ceony’s story; for when she goes into Thane’s heart, we spend the bulk of the book learning about Thane. By the end we have learned so much more about Thane than we have Ceony, so much so that the most glimpses of her full self are only revealed towards the end. It’s a shame too, because her backstory suggests that there could be some real interest there, if only the author had taken the time to develop it.

Speaking of development, the magic system, while intriguing on it’s face – a magician binds to one Material and that’s all they can work with it- is critically lacking. Basically what I just told you is about all we’re ever of the system. Supposedly Folding is weak, and yet Thane has a working life-size glider in his attic. He can turn paper into dogs and skeletons and bombs. How did the other Folders not be able to something like this? Were they lacking? Was the knowledge lost? Was Thane that much a genius? Could an Excisioner really trap someone in a heart? Are they necromancers if they can heal? There are so many questions that ultimately the magic feels convenient, that the author left it so broad that she could do whatever the story needs (that glider, for example, was very plot convenient) without issue. It’s frustrating too, because it’s such a great concept that I hate seeing it not brought fully to life.

I enjoyed reading this book, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t at least a little lacking. Some rounding out of Ceony and the magic system would have done wonders to push this to the next step, because there are definitely some good bones here.

Verdict: Borrow It

Available: Now

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