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The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Series) Paperback – September 1, 2014
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“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
About the Author
Charlie N. Holmberg was born in in Salt Lake City. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and minored in editing at Brigham Young University. Her debut novel, The Paper Magician, is the first title in her fantasy series, and is followed by the equally whimsical and enchanting The Glass Magician. When she’s not writing fantasy novels, she’s working as a freelance editor. A self-proclaimed Trekkie, she currently lives in Idaho with her husband and children, and hopes to someday have a dog.
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Top Customer Reviews
As the story moved along, I found myself becoming disappointed as I felt the book didn't live up to its potential. The character development fell rather flat and I found myself annoyed by the immature behavior of the protagonist - I often had to remind myself she is 19 years old in the book since she came across as someone much, much younger. I especially needed to remind myself of this as the romance factor was introduced. Even with her being 19, there was a definite "ick" factor and since her behaviour was so juvenile, I had a double "ick" factor.
The premise of the magic is what saved the book for me but even that wasn't developed to its full potential. The folding was such an intricate part to the success of the plot that I wish the author had taken more time to expand on it. Great start but suffered due to the romance taking over.
Bottom line: While some of the whimsical aspects reminded me a lot of the early Harry Potter books, the comparison to those was its downfall. While J.K. Rowling maintained the creativity throughout seven books, this author wasn't able to capitalize on a brilliant idea. While I think this book might very well be appreciated by the YA reader (much better than "Twilight" or other novels geared toward this age group), I didn't find it to be a particularly engaging read for the adult reader who appreciates YA and is looking for more than a romance story with some magic thrown in.
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.
This book is so wonderfully written, the plot so excellently developed, the characters, even minor ones, are three-dimensional. Even the paper dog is amusing which is saying something because I am most definitely a cat person. I loved it so much, I immediately purchased the other two books in the trilogy as well as pre-ordering a related book in that it is in the same world. I think Charlie N. Holmberg has become an auto-buy author for me. Fortunately, I don't have to wait too long for the pre-order to arrive on my kindle. It will come tomorrow.
The world-building is flawless. Holmberg's England is one where magic is simply a legitimate career choice. Some might choose to be stockbrokers, musicians, others magicians. No biggie. Unlike Harry Potter's world, magic isn't a sub-strata within the culture but very mainstream.
Our heroine, Ceony, has just graduated from the magic school. It is one year of intense learning and she was at the top of her class. She wanted to be a Smelting Magician and work with metals but the world of magic can't do without its Paper Magicians and she is unfortunately, in her eyes, apprenticed to Magician Emory Thane, a somewhat eccentric Paper Magician. Unbeknownst to her, he had taken an interest in her a few weeks before she began her studies at the school. She was catering at a magicians' banquet and a Dirty Old Man of a magician groped her under her skirt and she poured a pitcher of wine on him in a Most Embarrassing Spot. I leave it to the gentle reader to guess where. Her actions charmed Thane, but unfortunately for Ceony, the drenched man was also the person who decided who received the scholarship for which she applied and without which she could not pay her expenses at the school. But in the Very Nick of time, a scholarship from a different source is provided for her. She joins Thane in his home to begin her apprenticeship.
She soon discovers that Paper Magic and Folding is not merely decorative but highly functional. The butler of this household, Jonters, is an animated skeleton made of paper Folded by Thane. When Thane realizes Ceony left a much beloved Jack Russel terrier behind due to his allergies, he makes an adorable paper dog for her. Much study is required from human anatomy, watercraft, aircraft, animating childrens' stories and more.
I gotta tell you, the writing is so flawless I found every page enchanting. Then the plot thickens and a crazy woman bursts into Thane's home despite the wards, charms, and locks. She reaches into Thane's chest and pulls out his heart and departs. Ceony, remembering the anatomy books, Folds a new heart and inserts it into Thane's chest seconds before it magically closes. Thane regains consciousness enough to know it is a badly Folded heart due to her inexperience and he requires her to make a Vitality chain which she wraps around his torso. At that point he instructs her to call for help.
Two magicians arrive, Ceony explains what has happened. Despite wanting to stay she is banished to bed. Naturally, she slips off her shoes and sneaks downstairs to eavesdrop. Not liking what she hears, especially that Thane will probably only live another two days, she decides to act when the others won't. Ina bag she packs many sheets of paper, some food, and her little dog too. In the attic where the "big magic" is, she finds a large paper glider. She and the dog hop on, and following a paper bird who had scouted the evil woman's location, she Animates the glider and they fly off.
At this point, I wondered if I was about to encounter a trope I simply can't stand: the Too Stupid Too Live heroine. This is the type of woman who is determined to help regardless of her lack of skills, capabilities, or training. She does a buncha stuff with the best of intentions, only to get entangled in events she did not foresee because she did not have the skills, capabilities, and training to adequately assess the situation. In reality, it is a plot device so that the alpha hero rescues her.
But no such thing. Not only is Thane not an alpha hero, Ceony is trapped by Lira, the evil woman, inside Thane's heart where she learns all his secrets, sweet and dark. After several adventures within the various chambers of his heart, which is a metaphor, she meets Thane himself. There is an important conversation and Thane personally expels her from his heart even though it will cost him, but there is no other choice if she is to restore his beating heart to his body.
Ceony has to battle Lira nd in desperation uses the very first spell Thane taught her: animating words. She grabs the heart of the magic bowl that sustained it, wraps it in a Vitality chain, finds the glider and swooshes back to London. The heart is inserted, Thane lives. They return to their studies but, of course, things are changed enough between them that the very next thing I do after I finish this review is read the Glass Magician, the second volume in the trilogy.
After a short time of studying the art of folding she begins to develop a love for the process... or maybe she begins to love her mentor?
When Magician Thane's past comes to haunt him and takes his heart, literally, Crony must follow to gain it back. The journey will take her through Emery's heart and to a confrontation with a dark magician who has bonded in blood.
This book is a short read and, though the characters lack very much depth, is great. Keep reading the series, the development comes.