Read my review of The Paper Magician, book one in the series! This review contains spoilers of book 1.
After her near-death experiences at the hands of Excisioner, Lira, apprentice Folder Ceony Twill is still learning, and still fighting off her growing affection for her teacher, Emery Thane. When two new threats appear on her streets, targeting Ceony and those she holds most dear, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Magic, mystery, and danger all lurk within the world Ceony has chosen to inhabit.
Despite really enjoying the first book in the series, this one was a bit of a let-down. And although I normally write reviews in sentences, paragraphs, and even with actual punctuation, I’m just going to bullet-point what went wrong for me:
- Ceony is just. so. dumb?? Okay so probably not a great start to the review, but she makes some really stupid decisions and honestly believes she’s invincible. I think she’s like… 19 or something, so I kinda get that because us young adults can be quite headstrong and dangerous in that manner. But I just can’t get behind a character like that, and I think a reason it took me so long to read this quite short book (~250 pages) is because I was just facepalming the entire time.
- There were so many inconsistencies and confusing aspects of the book. I thought I understood the magical world of this series, but I really don’t think I do, like, 100%. Because – and this is a slight spoiler, so skip to the next bullet point if you want! – Ceony’s “solution” to what this “evil magician” has been hunting for was honestly so simple. Like, even I could figure it out, and I don’t even understand the world! Ugh. (Also there was one bit where Ceony was told she was in Belgium, but this review actually points out the fact it’s impossible and she was in France. Go figure.)
- The villains – they were just so flat, and 2D. One was a(n Indian?? and seemingly that was his ONLY PERSONALITY TRAIT *MEGA SIGH*) murderous being who just seemed to kill for fun, and one had good motivations, I guess, but I just couldn’t get behind him. He seemed to have no idea how to actually get what he wanted, no idea what he was doing, and I’m just very confused by his general existence.
- The world – okay, so I touched on this a little earlier, and I did in my review of the first book, but I have no idea where this is actually set. Like, “London” seems to small to actually be London, it doesn’t feel like the 19th C, and again it was very American and weird. I decided about 3/4 of the way through to just disconnect this book series entirely from our world, and picture it in one of its own, not steampunk 19th C London.
- OH! And let’s talk about the sexism. Like, it’s dropped in so casually throughout the book, but my brain just paused and went um, what?! every single time. Some of the comments – like Ceony things another male magician should marry so his wife can cook decent meals for him, and she thinks it’s astonishingly “Liberal” to wear skirts above the knee – were just so bizarre? And didn’t even really fit into the world, because if this is meant to be 19th C London, the suffragist movement is about to begin? And Ceony is a textbook feminist character, but most things she said seemed to counteract the things she did. I’m very confused, and disappointed in the author!
Those are just some of the things I didn’t like about this book. Don’t get me wrong – I did enjoy some things!
- Delilah – I really loved this character! I thought Ceony pushed her to do some things she didn’t really want to do, but she’s such a great character, really bouncy and lovely and just fun. This book needs more fun! I mean, they have this incredible magic, and just use it to fight?? Delilah seemed to have a ball.
- Emery – LET ME LOVE YOU. This man is my favourite, okay? Okay.
- The actual magic system – I know, I know, I’ve just said I don’t get along with it, but I still stand by the fact it’s such a cool system and it actually breaks my heart that I’ll never be a Folder. *sobs*
I will be continuing on to read the final book in the series, because
I love Emery want to find out what happens, but this was a massive let down for me, especially because I loved the first book. There were things that kept me reading, and obviously I enjoyed this enough to give it 2.5/5, but it was a bit of a “meh” book for me, and the second half was mainly just confusing!
Source: bought on Kindle