[Review] The Paper Magician – Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy, #1)

Author: Charlie N. Holmberg

Series: The Paper Magician Trilogy #1

Publication Date: September 1st, 2014

Publisher: 47North

Number of Pages: 224

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


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.


Well I can’t say that I really enjoyed that.

It starts out normal enough. Ceony is unwillingly assigned to paper instead of metal precisely because there aren’t enough paper wielders. She’s grumpy and hates her apprenticeship which was normal enough.

That is, until she grows to love it over the course of one day.

How so? Well part of it was the incredibly unbelievable way that she had a personality change. She starts out snarky and impolite but within three chapters has become a soft, lover of paper. She “realizes that she was wrong about paper”, which I found totally okay, but I thought that slowing it down would have made it more believable. The other part was probably because she FELL IN LOVE WITH HER MENTOR. Instalove everywhere. She barely even knew him and she had already begun to acknowledge her crush.

Besides the fact that Ceony was so easily moved by her mentor, Thane, I found the instructor/student romance sickening. Thane is a good 10+ years older than her and Ceony herself has already fallen in love with him. It didn’t feel like true love but rather infatuation.

The action itself was disappointing. There is little to no suspense and Ceony’s journey felt more like a trip down memory lane than an actual dangerous journey. It reminded me a lot of Harry Potter’s trips in the Pensieve which is a bad thing because her journey is supposed to be dangerous and pressing but it clearly was not. The entire “trip through his heart” felt like a device to justify Ceony’s crush on her mentor rather than save his heart.

She also had a dog. Reminded me of Dorothy and Toto. Except what was the purpose of her dog? There was none. If I were her, I would have been logical and not brought him along. Because you know. He’s made of PAPER. And you’re tromping through a very WET HEART. I wouldn’t have wanted to deal with something else while trying to save somebody’s heart.

All of this would have been better if Ceony had been so much less bland. Sure she had character, but to me she was too boring. I didn’t like her. The beginning of her apprenticeship feels so much like a daily journal of what she does. She wakes up. She cooks breakfast. She flirts with Thane. She practices her magic. She gets a new lesson. She cooks dinner. She sleeps.

Now that is all grand and dandy for the important or interesting lessons/meal discussions but I didn’t really see the need in narrating so many of them.

2/5 Stars


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