The Paper Magician by Charlie N Holmberg

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Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

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…

Normally I would include the full blurb here, because it is what attracted me to the book in the first place (that and the beautiful artwork – I really need to find more by this artist). But the blurb for this book annoys me, as it sums up an unnecessarily large portion of the book that I would have liked to discover for myself. So I’ve chopped the end off and copied across an abridged version.

This book came up in my suggested purchases on Amazon (Amazon knows me a bit too well I think). I was intrigued by the system of magic that Holmberg had created – the paper magic in particular appeals to the origami enthusiast in me – so I signed up for a Kindle Unlimited Free Trial and gave it a whirl.

The Paper Magician is a compelling read and I whizzed through it fairly quickly. The magic system is good and, despite her initial reluctance, Ceony delights in discovering her magic in precise folds and differing types of paper. However, such magic obviously has it’s limits, rain for one, but the ways of dealing with the limitations are intriguing and the author never shies away from the potential problems.

The plot was engaging, if not overly complicated and there was definitely groundwork laid for further volumes in the series. But the supporting characters were a little flat in comparison to Ceony and it made her feeling towards Thane much less believable. Bizarrely, the supporting character who was most interesting was a collapsible animated paper dog called Fennel, make of that what you will.

I think Ceony’s ‘task’ was a really interesting concept and I think it was done rather well. I understood how it would re-define her relationship to Thane but I would have enjoyed it more if her reaction towards him hadn’t been so sudden. The book did also feel weighted more towards this second section with the first feeling more compressed and a little rushed.

Overall, Holmberg has created an interesting world that I would have liked to spend a bit more time exploring than the plot allowed. I would definitely pick up the other books in the series – indeed my review of the second book will be up next – but I was frustrated by some aspects of it. I’m more than willing to suspend my disbelief in Fantasy but there were quite a lot of implausible situations here for the proposed time period and the book has definitely not been Brit-picked which was very annoying to read.

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