Book Review: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

TITLE: The Paper Magician
AUTHOR: Charlie N. Holmberg
NUMBER OF PAGES: 226 (Kindle Edition)
PRICE: £7.64 (paperback) / £3.98 (kindle)
ISBN: 978-1477823835
PERSONAL SOURCE: Bought on Kindle

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 GoodReads

Okay, so this book… Before I started, I read a bunch of reviews on Amazon (it was £1 and I was also reading it for an online book group). Quite a lot of them said it was a disappointment, nothing special, and so I went in with slightly perturbed. However, I, personally, was not disappointed.

The characters were all fairly interesting, although I thought Ceony could be a bit more into the whole paper-folding thing after it, hmm, saved her life, but nevertheless, I liked them. I really liked Mg Thane, and his relationship with Ceony has been well set-up for the next two books in the series, although it has felt a bit one-sided so far.

The concept of the book is a kind of fantasy, steampunk-y universe set in London in the United Kingdom. I really enjoyed the universe, however this was also where the author let the story down. They are clearly America, and therefore use American terms in favour of English terms: such as pants instead of trousers or sidewalk instead of pavement. This, I felt, really took away from the story and I felt it was such an elementary slip-up and really should have been noticed by the writer and/or editor.

The magic in this land is something I have never come across before, really, in YA fiction, so I enjoyed reading about paper magic and even the Excisioner, who I found both horrifying and intriguing. For the paper magic alone, I enjoyed this novel.

Overall, I gave this 4/5 – let down by the American terminology and also by some of the plot, which I felt dragged on about 10 pages too much in certain areas (otherwise I really enjoyed the plot and am looking forward to reading the continuation). However, I will and am looking forward to reading the second and third instalments and recommend this to those who enjoy YA fantasy.

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