The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician by Charlie N Holmberg


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.

The Paper Magician
Charlie N. Holmberg
Publisher: 47North
Publication: September 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Received via Kindle First
Locate: amazon | b&n | worldcat
Rated: ★½

The Paper Magician by Charlie N Holmberg

The summary amazon gives you for the book makes it sounds extremely exciting; something that is fast-paced and dangerous. Instead, The Paper Magician falls more towards the whimsical side of fantasy. The reader is never truly worried about Ceony’s safety, nor are we ever really concerned about Thane’s survival. Though that may make it seem like a boring read, it actually wasn’t. It was fun, it was fluffy, it was playful. I can only recommend this as a beach/vacation read for all it’s delight because once you start to think on it, you realise how much it lacks.

The story takes place sometime in the 1900s, but you wouldn’t have known it given the way the characters talk and the complete lack of world-building. It seems the author believes dressing her characters in period pieces would automatically convey the setting and it definitely does not. Furthermore, we know nothing about the outside world. We find out from Ceony that if she had not become a magician, she would have preferred attending culinary school. Does this mean that magic is something that exists for all in the world but in order to use it, you must tap into it with the help of magician’s schools? Or is this like Harry Potter where some people are born with magic but need education to properly use it? Does the public en masse know that magic exists? If they do, how does this affect their day to day lives? As this is supposed to take place in the early 1900s, does this world have a more balanced male/female dynamic? These are all minor questions that arise when you’re reading the story. While it is understandable that the author can’t just go ahead and answer each of these at once in the novella while still telling the story she wants, I do think we should get the feeling that the author does at least know the answer to these herself.

A love story is the crux of the story, not the magic that serves as its foundation. We are supposed to see a stubborn, strong-willed girl and a wild, mad professor make their way past each other’s defences, eventually falling into each other’s arms in love. That is definitely the case when it comes to Ceony falling in love with her professor, but not necessarily the case so far with Emery Thane. The second book in the trilogy will likely remedy this and have the professor begin to soften up towards the idea of love again. It’s fun and playful the way the two interact and if it weren’t for one major issue, this relationship would be great to see unravel. The issue? Emery Thane is not only her professor, which can be a no-no but easily overlooked, but he is also the man who paid for her entire tuition to magic school. She readily puts herself in his debt because he helped her accomplish her dream of becoming a magician. Ceony starts cooking for him and trying to impress him, then rushes off trying to save him simply because she feels indebted to him. Once she finally discovers who he is as a person, she says she is in love with him, but is she really? She only knows his memories and his past, not who he currently is. She might really love him, but it’s a love heavily influenced by obligation.

It’s really quite sad that this is the story we get, because I feel like there is so much great potential here. Emery Thane is a great character and one I’d love to read more about. His adventures seem fantastic, as does his upbringing. Lira is amazing and someone I wish we could see more of, especially since she is the one character that truly undergoes a drastic metamorphosis. The world, if/when fully developed, seems like it would be so much fun and great, yet full of danger. But we don’t see most of it here on the page. All we see is Ceony and she leaves much to be desired.

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About Lulu

Thirty-something year old educator based in New York, Lulu loves books, blogging, gaming, and her pom son Frodo Barkins with whom she shares her life. Book reviews specialize in all kinds of fantasy, some YA, some romance, and some contemporary, especially in the gothic genre.