The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
Series: The Paper Magician Trilogy #1
Published by 47North on September 1st 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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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.
I love it.
So, first a little summary- the synopsis doesn’t really say much. When she goes to rescue Thane’s heart, she has the opportunity to see inside it, so she sees his past and his hopes for the future. So I feel like most of this story (the real substance in it) was actually in the past and the future, so it was satisfying enough without moving the plot along too quickly. Well, romance-wise anyway. It was cleverly done. We could fall for Emery Thane just as Ceony did, without even having much interaction with him throughout the book, because we saw what events in his past made him who he is. And in a way that makes the ending kind of bittersweet; she feels like she’s known him forever but he doesn’t know what she knows so it’s pretty one-sided, and he doesn’t know all that much about her. So we know there’s going to be a lot more buildup in the relationship in the next books. This book, then, is a kind of set-up; a background or exposition. We learn about Thane’s past which explains the present- but we only return to that at the very end, so we can’t do much with the information. We learn a little bit about Ceony and her past, but every time we do it’s kind of unexpected- like little tidbits and memories appearing during a current struggle she’s having. That’s one part I feel is kind of disjointed. But it doesn’t bother me too much. Another complaint I have is that the actual beginning exposition- the time she is apprenticed to Thane before Lira comes for his heart- is very short. I don’t feel like that is enough time to really get a feel for Thane and justify Ceony’s feelings and willingness to save him. I would have liked for it to have been a lot longer; it was a nice time. But hopefully it returns to something similar to that in the next book- it won’t be as innocent, but we’ll see.
A funny thing to note is that parts of this book, and ideas, are quite gruesome, but nothing in the book would ever lead you to expect that. It’s not a particularly dark world we see at first, or at least Ceony is not exposed to it. It seems like it would be a lighter kind of story at first. And Ceony herself doesn’t dwell on the darkness too much, so whenever we see a dark element in the story, it’s…sudden and kind of jarring. So there are a lot of conflicting elements in the story, but it captivates.
- pacing (mostly)
Less than perfect:
I absolutely loved this book. It was captivating and paced pretty well, especially given that most of the story seems to be in the past and future. The characters are reasonable and likable and their relationships are believable. Would I read more by this author? I can’t wait. Would I recommend this? A thousand times yes.