The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
Synopsis: 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.
-Spoiler free review-
The Paper Magician was a really fun read. I read it on the way home from New York (literally over 2 months ago (why)), and it was a very enjoyable experience.
Charlie N. Holmberg’s writing style is akin to that of V.E.Schwab, whom I adore, so it was quite easy to fall into the pages (so to speak, I read it on my kindle) and get into the storyline. The only small complaint I have about the writing style is that it felt as if Holmberg was trying to be inspirational, or trying to make the words ‘quotable’. This resulted in a strange tone- it was all very cliché and cheesy, the kind of stuff you awkwardly smile at. But nonetheless, this didn’t distract from the overall atmosphere- which was one of fun and creativity.
The whole idea had me gripped at the synopsis, so I was very eager to see how magic would be portrayed- and I was certainly not disappointed. The manipulation of paper (and other mediums) was very clever and had elements of realism- Holmberg gives life and a strange sense of order to the magic, so it’s easy to imagine yourself being able to perform the spells.
And the structure was much more original than I had anticipated! Usually with a “training in the art of magic” plot, the characters follow the exact same pattern and end up going from clumsy-and-terrible to awesome-and-terrifying. But in The Paper Magician, Ceony goes through a different training regime, and it was totally refreshing. The plot evolved into something I didn’t expect, and that was lovely. You could clearly see every bit of her training paying off, so the first half of the book didn’t feel like a waste of time (as it does with some novels).
Oh and I haven’t even spoken about the characters yet! They were surprisingly well fleshed out- there were no unnecessary bits and bobs, everything was straight forward and in line with all that had come before. Like I said, it makes for a very refreshing experience. I didn’t at any point feel like I was missing something, or that the plot had jumped ahead of the character development (or even vice versa). I did, however, feel a little bit impatient with the plot, as at times it went veeryyy sloowwwlllyy and I whole-heartedly wanted it to continue quickly so I could find out more!
Insta-love is a popular and infamous trope in YA fiction, but I am so very pleased to say that it doesn’t happen in The Paper Magician! The romance seemed, to me, entirely gradual, and it flowed beautifully with the rest of the plot. It was never really the centrepiece of the plot, the terrible peak in the storyline.
This review looks very glowing and praising, and you might be wondering “but why Becky, why did you give this 3.7 stars???” I know that 3.7 is a really random rating, but I didn’t want to give it 4 stars and I didn’t want to give it 3.5. The Paper Magician was definitely way too good for 3.5, but it lacked a certain something, a certain pizzazz that I’m sure the sequel will have (and I am going to read the sequel) for me to give it 4. So I thought, “hey, I’ll just give a median rating.” And since putting 3.75 would be way too pedantic, here we are at 3.7.
So all in all, a very good novel. I would definitely recommend The Paper Magician for a refreshing (how many times can I use that word in one review) take on magic- look out for my review of the sequel The Glass Magician sometime in the future!
Hey there! Thanks for reading this review- I’d just like to say a few things about my lack of posts here for the past month.
I’ve recently started alevels, and I’m still adjusting to the work load, which means I haven’t had the desire to read (or even write reviews apparently). I’ve nearly finished This Savage Song though, so I’ll hopefully have another review for you this month.
lets ignore that I made a similar promise in August and failed
I’ve also got some recommendations and maybe some spoiler-y book talk things in the works; we’ll see how that goes.
So I apologise for the lack of content, I hope I can make up for it!