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The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Series, Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Charlie N. Holmberg
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,361 customer reviews)

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From the Editor

We think "charmed" is the right word for our reaction to this very special debut. The Paper Magician is pure fantasy with a spin on magic—spells enacted by the folding of paper—that we'd never seen before.

With a complex heroine who struggles at the intersection of whimsical circumstance and a desire to determine her own destiny, The Paper Magician is sophisticated enough for adults but dabbles in magic and mythos that are perfect for teens. Ultimately, we just love the story of a young woman who works hard and faces deep disappointments, yet remains determined to do what's right—no matter the cost.

Set at Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, The Paper Magician does what all great stories do: allows us to connect with the protagonist and trust that she's up to any challenge. Charlie Holmberg accomplishes this and more with the precocious Ceony Twill, a self-propelled heroine who—armed with only a photographic memory and a stack of paper—greets every new surprise with aplomb. Truly, this book charmed us.

Yes—that's definitely the right word. Happy reading!

- David Pomerico and Jason Kirk, Editors

Book Description

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.

From the imaginative mind of debut author Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician is an extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that will delight readers of all ages.

Short-Listed for the 2015 ALA Fantasy Reading List

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up—In early 20th century England, 19-year-old Ceony Twill graduates with distinction from the Praff School for the Magically Inclined and must now commit to a lifetime bond with one element. Although bespelling metal is Ceony's choice, she is, much to her dismay, required to bond to paper owing to a shortage of paper magicians. She reluctantly travels to the cottage of magician Emery Thane, to whom she will apprentice. Although she's initially scornful of the paper element, Thane wins over his prickly apprentice with inventive and delightful paper creations including a lifelike paper dog that becomes Ceony's beloved companion. The story swiftly moves to deadly serious, as Lira, an Excisioner who practices dark magic on human flesh, arrives intending to rip out and steal Thane's heart. (Lira, coincidentally, is Thane's ex-wife.) Although Amy McFadden's performance is capable, the story strains belief with loose ends and contradictions throughout, e.g., though a novice at working with paper, Ceony creates a paper heart to keep Thane alive and single-handedly rides to rescue his real heart using a magical paper glider. In a confusing scene, Ceony somehow becomes trapped inside Thane's heart and travels through its chambers discovering his memories and deepest secrets. After this journey she exits and has another violent encounter with Lira, who seems, conveniently, strangely powerless even though as an Excisioner she is supposed to possess great abilities. VERDICT While there are some intriguing scenes, this work will appeal only to those who can overlook the story's many inconsistencies.—Rebecca James, Nashville, TN


“Charlie N. Holmberg does a fantastic job of making her characters interesting and complex...The Paper Magician is my kind of story. I love anything set in England, especially historical England, and the pace of the story, while incredibly fast, cuts to the point and leaves plenty of room and questions-left-unanswered for a sequel. I appreciated that it didn’t end as a typical fluffy romance, but had an interesting twist and what I felt was a lot of delicious tension. Plus, the cover’s awesome.” —Devin Brooks, The Figmentist

“Harry Potter fans will likely enjoy this story for its glimpses of another structured magical world, and fans of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus will enjoy the whimsical romance element. The ease of read makes this a quick getaway when compared to something complex in terms of language like Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. So if you're looking for a story with some unique magic, romantic gestures, and the inherent darkness that accompanies power all steeped in a yet to be fully explored magical world, then this could be your next read.” —Amanda Lowery, Thinking Out Loud

“Ceony displays commendable pluck facing a more experienced mage trained in the dark arts, and Holmberg gives her a complete story while leaving ample room for sequels…This promising debut recalls the early work of Patricia Wrede.” —Publishers Weekly

“A fast-paced, perilous romp…The story was the perfect tempo and I immediately fell in love with Ceony, her astute mind and quick thinking. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!” —CheriePie’s Book Reviews

"Stephen King once said, 'Love is a uniquely portable magic,' and if so, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg must be a kind of love...If you can take yourself out of the real world for a little while and imagine yourself as one learning how to be a magician, this novel will easily become one of your favorites. With a little bit of magic, romance, and suspense, The Paper Magician is truly a fun and exciting summer read for anyone who needs a break from the real world.” —The Triangle

“The plot is pretty tightly focused on Ceony and Emery, but the glimpses I caught of this larger world were fascinating...If you enjoy fantasy or steampunk at all, give this one a try.” —The Introverted Reader

Product Details

  • File Size: 1910 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Publisher: 47North (September 1, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HVF7OL0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #701 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
139 of 153 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bewitching Surprise August 1, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When magician-in-training Ceony Twill is chosen as apprentice to the paper magician, Emery Thane, she is decidedly disgruntled. Not only was Ceony the first in her class at Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, she possesses a photographic memory and more confidence than any nineteen-year-old should. Clearly her talents deserve more than an assignment to the dated and dull art of paper folding magic. Nevertheless, Ceony accepts her fate and resigns herself to an adventureless future--or so she thinks! Thus begins Charlie N. Holmberg's The Paper Magician, a winning fantasy that should appeal to both adolescent and adult readers alike, though teen girls are obviously the more specific target audience.

Perhaps what I liked best about The Paper Magician is that it borrows freely from any number of children's literature classics, Harry Potter and Mary Poppins to name only two, without ever becoming derivative. A familiar coming of age theme is made fresher by an inventive plot, witty dialogue, and a surprising love story. The characters also add to the story's quirky charm: Ceony, the snarky heroine, Emery, the peculiar magician, and Lira, the deliciously evil villainess. And although the novel is a serial (a sequel called The Glass Magician will be released this November), its ending is a satisfying one with no frustrating cliffhangers common to the fantasy genre. I found The Paper Magician a bewitching surprise--perhaps it will cast its spell upon you too!
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206 of 235 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK for tweens, tolerable for adults August 2, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Several friends on the Amazon book forum like to discuss what we're reading and recommend books we think others would like. When one mentioned that he reads to his 11 year old daughter every night (what a great family tradition!), I added children's books to my "watch for" list. So when I saw a kindle first book promoted as "extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that will delight readers of all ages", I was excited to think I might have found something new to recommend. Especially something an 11 year old might enjoy that wouldn't be torture for a very literate Dad. So I went into the book primarily with the mind set of sharing with a child, not as a straight adult read.

I read the book off and on throughout the day yesterday. It is fairly short (about two thirds the size of the original Harry Potter) and although the story is set in late Victorian England, the prose is modern so it wouldn't be a tough read for any one. Unfortunately, it didn't quite hit the mark for me either as an adult or as something to share with a child. It seemed to be caught between two audiences and couldn't quite satisfy either.

As an adult, the premise was imaginative with an original take on "magic" and it was mildly enjoyable at times. But the characters were one dimensional and attempts to add complexity seemed forced and tacked on. The author went to great length to be descriptive, but rather than finding it evocative, I thought it became rather tedious. I really didn't need to know the details of the heroine's morning primping, what she ate and boring tasks for three consecutive days. This, like much of the description, seemed designed to add length without moving the story forward or creating atmosphere.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not enough character/plot development August 22, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The premise of the book is neat - that magicians are bonded to one manmade medium and can work magic only through that medium. However, this book fell a little flat for me. Almost as soon as you're introduced to the two main characters, you get swept into this rescue mission which seems premature as you've hardly gotten to know the characters - or for that matter, the characters have hardly gotten to know each other! The plot advances too quickly and the relationships seem forced. The author attempts to make up for this by exploring the characters' hopes, dreams and pasts through a series of visions and flashbacks, but for me it seemed like too little too late.
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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Would Give a Better Rating if Marketed More Truthfully August 29, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This story is not a magical fantasy, but rather a standard romance dressed up in fantasy clothes. The magic system, though it has potential, is not developed. The villains seem to have no purpose other than being evil. The plot moves forward on events improbable even within the realm of magic. That’s because all of these things are just props for the real story: a romance. I’ll provide one example. There’s a scene where the evil-mage ex-wife of the good-mage male love interest shows up at his house, physically rips his heart out, and then teleports away in a shower of blood. The pretty young female love interest, who has been apprenticing for a couple of weeks, and who has so far made nothing more complex than origami frogs, finds a piece of paper, figures out how to fold it into a functioning heart, brings it to life, and inserts it into the good mage’s chest. That she does this at all is incredible. But okay… maybe the heroine is just a magical and origami-folding super genius. But is it believable that she begins after the guy’s heart has been ripped out and gets it all done before he dies? Keep in mind that the story emphasizes how exquisitely precise the origami must be folded for the magic to work. A loving young girl replacing a guy’s heart that’s been ripped out by a nasty ex-wife has symbolism appropriate to a romantic fairy tale. So, if you’re looking for a romantic fairy tale with a contemporary twist, you might love this book. But a good magical fantasy, it is not.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars HP Fans Will Appreciate This Unique Magic System
Magic is so overdone in YA that it's nice to find a unique way to do it that actually works. I admit, the idea of a magician being able to use magic only with the manmade material... Read more
Published 21 hours ago by Sarah B
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing
I wasn't' t sure what to expect, but in short time I found myself engrossed by this well written story. It's nice to have magic without dragons and castles. Read more
Published 22 hours ago by Randy Thill
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This book was great! Its prefect for teens.
Published 1 day ago by Whitney Rojas
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting read
Fast paced and interesting the whole way through. I can't wait to read the next book in the series to learn more about this magical universe.
Published 1 day ago by Anon
3.0 out of 5 stars Unique but lacking
I really loved the idea of this novel. The thought of animating paper seemed magical, and I thought the novel was very unique. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Summer
5.0 out of 5 stars Creative take on magic
A very creative start to a series. It does have the feeling of an introduction to a series rather than a part one of three, but it is still really good, and I will definitely... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming, delightful, suspenseful!
A tad short for a novel, it held my interest perfectly and left me wanting the sequel. Ceony is a delightful protagonist who tells people exactly what she's thinking. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Artemis9307
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read!
This book quickly draws you in to a magical world, gives you a dark twist, and ends with a perfect description of how new love feels. I found myself smiling through the ending.
Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read!!
I truly enjoyed this book. A stereotypic page turner. Absolutely a great read, coming for someone who reads a LOT!
Published 4 days ago by Pen Name
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good But Safe Read
I enjoyed the originality of the story and the concept of using paper as a conduit for casting spells. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Charlie Nicholes Holmberg was born in Salt Lake City, Utah to two parents who sacrificed a great deal to give their very lazy daughter a good education. As a result, Charlie learned to hate uniforms, memorized all English prepositions in alphabetical order, and mastered the art of Reed-Kellogg diagramming a sentence at age seven. She entered several writing contests in her elementary years and never placed.

Being a nerd, Charlie started writing fan-fiction as a teenager in between episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She became a full-fledged band geek with mediocre talent in high school, where she met her husband Jordan Holmberg. While she strove to win his attention by baking him cookies and throwing ramen noodles at his house, he didn't actually ask her out until six years later.

Charlie began taking writing seriously during her undergrad at Brigham Young University, where she majored in English and minored in editing. She finally won a few writing contests. She graduated with her BA in 2010 and got hitched three months later. Shortly afterwards, her darling husband dragged her to Moscow, Idaho, where he subsequently impregnated her.

In summer 2013, after collecting many rejection letters and making a quilt out of them, Charlie sold her ninth novel, The Paper Magician, and its sequel to 47North with the help of her wonderful agent, Marlene Stringer. Someday she will own a dog.

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age level
The book as a whole is relatively clean. I was impressed with that. There is a level of violence (description of a scene after an act of despicable violence, but it happens off camera) in some parts that I wouldn't recommend for young or aggressively impressionable readers, but it is written... Read More
Feb 19, 2015 by Kate Wells |  See all 2 posts
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