Book Reviews · Original Posts

Book Review: The Paper Magician

Paper Magician

I bought this entire series (all 3 books!!!) for a mere $5.40 on my Kindle, which was a huge bargain. I’ve been burned taking chances on really cheap books before, but The Paper Magician was not a mistake at all!

Here is the description from Goodreads:

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.

In the beginning, the story didn’t immediately captivate me, nor did Ceony’s character. But, Charlie Holmberg starts her (yes, her, read her bio) heroine’s story at such a pivotal moment that I didn’t put it down, despite the lack of instant gratification. I’m so glad I kept going! The magic in this series (which is very steampunk, in a very cool way) is some of the most amazing, beautiful, and inventive I’ve ever read! The amazing creativity with which Thane uses paper magic is so gorgeous that it captivated me and Ceony, which dragged me further through the story. Then when Magician Thane’s heart was taken, I couldn’t stop reading. Ceony’s journey through Thane’s heart was one of the most unique journeys I’ve read in a genre populated with them.

I found Ceony’s character arc to be predictable (I really can’t say anything else without spoilers), but not unsatisfying. Her photographic memory sometimes seems a bit too convenient, but Holberg ensures her character experiences the difficulties having a photographic memory would entail. In the beginning, the writing is unspectacular, but it improves drastically the further you read until it takes on the creativity and whimsy that marks the rest of the novel. Best sentences include:

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

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg


“Faith is a very personal thing, really. Just because you don’t meet with a group of people once a week who believe everything exactly the way you do doesn’t mean you don’t believe in something.”

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

I finished this book glad I’d already bought its sequel, which I am currently about halfway through!

Overall, I’d recommend The Paper Magician to anyone who likes steampunk, whimsy, or unique novels, as this was certainly one of the most unique books I’ve ever read.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, just because Ceony’s development was a bit cliche and predictable

Also, so far the sequel has been better than the first, so I highly recommend the entire series! Jonas has kept me reading, so hopefully I’ll finish and review The Glass Magician this weekend too, but I’ve been distracted by my latest acquisition: Illuminae! Both reviews forthcoming. Stay safe, and keep reading and writing!


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