Holmberg, Charlie N. The Master Magician (2015). 47north. 226 Pages. $4.99
The Paper Magician | Book Three
Throughout her studies, Ceony Twill has harbored a secret, one she’s kept from even her mentor, Emery Thane. She’s discovered how to practice forms of magic other than her own—an ability long thought impossible.
While all seems set for Ceony to complete her apprenticeship and pass her upcoming final magician’s exam, life quickly becomes complicated. To avoid favoritism, Emery sends her to another paper magician for testing, a Folder who despises Emery and cares even less for his apprentice. To make matters worse, a murderous criminal from Ceony’s past escapes imprisonment. Now she must track the power-hungry convict across England before he can take his revenge. With her life and loved ones hanging in the balance, Ceony must face a criminal who wields the one magic that she does not, and it may prove more powerful than all her skills combined.
Ceony, wearing her red apprentices’ apron over a ruffled blouse and plain brown skirt, stood on her tiptoes on a three-legged stool and stuck a square of white paper against the east wall of the Holloways’ living room, right where the wall met the ceiling. The family was celebrating Mr. Holloway’s awarding of the Africa General Service Medal, and had submitted a request to hire the local Folder– Magician Emery Thane– to fashion the party decorations.
Of course Emery had passed the “frivolous task” on to his apprentice.
I waited impatiently for this book, because I had enjoyed the first two so very much. And while I enjoyed this one as well, I did not enjoy it as much as I had enjoyed the others. It didn’t pull me in as much, and I wasn’t as attached to the story, or the characters. The drama and intrigue felt forced, and the character development fizzled.
Ceony’s circumstances are frustrating at best, as she rushes headlong into bad situations. She doesn’t listen to others, and tries to handle everything on her own. She’s less sympathetic for whatever reason, and where I was willing to accept her recklessness in the first two books, I was less okay with it in this one.
Add to that the manufactured drama of living in another Folder’s house, and the way he interferes with her life, and I’m just not sure that I loved this one as much as I wanted to. Don’t get me wrong though, I did enjoy the book. But after the first two, and the way they built up, and the standard they set, this just didn’t wow me as much.
There are some great things going on in this book, and I found the ongoing relationship between Ceony and Emery to be one of my favorite parts. I enjoyed the glimpse into the life they have built, and the information about the world, and the way the magic system works, and all of that.
Overall, though I loved the first two, and enjoyed the hell out of the series as a whole, I found myself less impressed with the final installment. It earns a 3.5 of 5. I enjoyed it, but I wanted to love it and I really didn’t.