Holmberg, Charlie N. The Paper Magician (2014). 47North. 226 Pages. $4.99
The Paper Magician | Book One
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.
For the past five years, Ceony had wanted to be a Smelter.
However, while most graduates of the Tagis Praff school for the Magically Inclined got to choose what material they dedicated their craft to, Ceony had been assigned. “Not enough Folders,” Magician Aviosky had explained in her office.
I discovered Kindle Unlimited recently. It’s an interesting service from Amazon which I suggest people who read a lot of Kindle books look at. That said, if you get a book through Unlimited and like it, you should really buy a copy to ensure that the author actually gets some profit from your enjoyment.
Anyhow, moving onto the point of this, the fact that I don’t have to pay for these books has made me more inclined to pick up novels which I otherwise might not have heard of. The Paper Magician is one of those novels.
I started reading it hoping to be entertained, but it ended up being one of those books that hooked me and had me thinking about it when I was unable to read. (I’ve had a career change since my last post, which I’ll detail later, but it’s cut into my reading time by quite a bit.) I read it on the train to work, thought about it all day, read more on the train home, and then instead of taking my usual nap when I get home, I kept reading. And when I finished the book, I wanted more. (Luckily, the sequel, The Glass Magician is set for release on November 4th, 2014. Even more luckily for me, my NetGalley account is still active and it was available for review, so expect that tomorrow.)
I did not immediately love Ceony, her attitude grated on me a bit at first, but as I learned more about her, and we got hints and bits and pieces, she grew on me. By about the third chapter, I believe, I was a fan. She has a lot of drive, and is a very stubborn girl. This serves her well as the story progresses. Ceony is interesting in that she has had past traumas, but they are not a major part of her. Yes, some of them still affect her, but not the way Young Adult novels have made me come to expect. She is strong, talented, and driven. She knows this about herself, and while there are doubts, she does not doubt that she is smart. And I love that about her.
Mg. Emery Thane is fairly bland. There doesn’t seem to be a lot to him. Oh, there’s a lot that’s happened to him, but very little about him. We learn so much and so little about him, and it is frustrating, because he seems to have a lot of potential. I like him. I want him to be interesting. I want him to be a strong character, well rounded, interesting. But we don’t see that from him.
The novel as a whole takes a brief period of time to explain the world before taking off, setting a brisk pace for the rest of the story. This works well, as the faster pace for the more dramatic scenes helps to draw you in and express the urgency which Ceony feels. It starts early in the novel, not leaving a lot of time for the world building (which we all know I love.)
The cover though. Oh how I love it. It fits the book so well, and is just so pretty. (The cover for the sequel isn’t bad, either.) I enjoy well-designed covers, and this one definitely had some thought put into it.
There are a few things which didn’t entirely work for me. Namely, the time period was a bit wishy-washy. I never really got a sense of “when” this novel was taking place. There’s a sense of almost Victorian propriety, but a single woman lives with a man who is not a relative or husband. There are mentions of plastic and rubber. There are automobiles, but they’re not incredibly common. Paper is affordable and common and is cut to 8 1/2 “x 11” sizes. It so strongly resembles the “not quite Victorian” of many steampunk novels I’ve been reading that I automatically classified it in that category, but it’s never really defined.
There are some times where much emphasis is put onto descriptions that aren’t entirely necessary. I love to visualize the world, so they didn’t bother me, but sometimes it slowed the pace down too much.
Still, as I said. It grabbed me. Pulled me in and made me want to read more. I really, truly enjoyed this book, and would suggest it to anyone who wants an interesting new take on magic.
It gets a solid 5/5.