All Reviews, fantasy, young adult

Book Review: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper MagicianThe Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


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⭑⭑⭑ 3 stars

“Perhaps in a heart, knowledge was more stable than memory or thought.

Ceony Twill is heartbroken that instead of being able to become a magician that enchants mental – a Smither – she has been assigned to become a Folder; a magician that is bonded to paper. But as Magician Emery Thane’s apprentice, she learns that bespelling paper is more creative and wonderful than she ever could have imagined. She is determined to prove herself to him, especially once she learns that Emery paid for her scholarship to graduate from Tagis Praff school. Suddenly, an Excisioner – a practitioner of magic that bewitches the flesh and other dark magic – blasts through the wards on Mg. Thane’s cottage and rips his heart right through his chest.

I found The Paper Magician hard to rate; I didn’t dislike it but I didn’t particularly love it, either. I was a bit disappointed about the direction the story headed, and I thought the ending was slightly anti climactic. However there were aspects of the story that I really did like, and I thought they had such potential. I think that The Paper Magician is a truly extraordinary book that will inspire the creative mind using the most simple of man-made objects.

However, Ceony doesn’t really seem to think anything that isn’t relevant to the direction of the storyline; she’s always planning or setting up for the next plot twist, her introspection is a little lacking which makes it hard to get to know the character and relate to any depth of her fictional personality. I hope that the next instalment of the series holds a little more profundity and sophistication in not just Ceony but the other characters as well, rather than the generic descriptions that are used within the novel.

Also, I think that a lot of the time, the author tends to point out the obvious – completely unnecessarily – I’ve listed a couple of examples:

– “Though unless she found a way out, she wouldn’t see her twentieth year!”


– “Ceony finally tucked her last paper spell into her bag, careful not to disrupt the organized chaos within. Organized chaos—many necessary things all needing careful placement.”

Really? I personally dislike this low standard of explaining what’s going on in the story, I know the audience is mainly Young Adult, but I think that the author, Charlie N Holmberg, needs to give the readers a little more credit – we’re all here for the story, not slightly patronising plot fodder. And we know what organised chaos is.

I was also pretty surprised by the sudden budding romance on Ceony’s part, in my opinion there was no build up to it, the language and semantics used in the book do not portray a rising romance, I felt that one moment there was a purely platonic relationship being described, the next minute Ceony had sudden feelings. Altogether I was quite alarmed and a bit incredulous when I began to guess that the characters were heading in an ‘amour’ direction, although I am intrigued to see what happens next; Ceony’s sudden infatuation could either develop or be dismantled completely, I wish there was a little more insinuation towards Ceony’s abrupt affection.

Saying that, I would definitely read the second instalment in the series. I think that the premise of the storyline is so interesting, it’s a really intriguing plot that has the potential to become completely immersive for any lover of magical fantasy. The set up of the world was just right; there were the basics explained so the reader is not confused by any world building, and the reader also gets to learn alongside Ceony, which makes any world building information easy to absorb whilst ensuring the story flows beside quite nicely.

I thought that the magical elements inside this story were detailed with extreme intricacy, the level of imagination involved was awe-inspiring, and I think the author has done a really good job of breaking down the world they have thought up to build it back up for the readers in this book, and hopefully the entire series.


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