Thursday, January 14, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

A whole slew of library books on hold all became available at the same time. I’m going to try to put a dent in the pile.

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg is a fast-paced magical adventure. Ceony Twill has just graduated from magic school and has to start her apprenticeship. In this London-based fantasy world, magicians have to pick the man-made element that they will be "bonded" to. In the future, any magic they perform will have to use that medium. Ceony had wanted to be a Smelter and work magic with metal. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of Folders, magicians who use paper, and so she is assigned, against her wishes, to the tutelage of Magician Thane, a Master Folder.

Just as Ceony is becoming intrigued by the intricacies of paper magic, and a bit intrigued by her strange, kind, and somewhat mysterious teacher, things rapidly go downhill. Thane is somehow involved with the special force of magicians who hunt down Excisioners, practicers of dark magic, whose chosen medium is flesh. In the midst of one of Ceony’s lessons, an Excisioner bursts into Thane’s house and, before Ceony’s eyes, rips out Thane’s heart and carries it off.

Ceony, not yet fully trained but apparently extraordinarily gifted, sets off after the Excisioner. The two battle over and in Thane’s heart. If she is not quick, Thane will die. If she fails, they will both die.

The premise of this book seemed very original, even if some of the parts of it felt a bit derivative. It took me a couple of chapters to be drawn in, because the characters didn’t have much of a spark for me, but the chapters moved quickly enough that I kept thinking "well, one more." And then I was well into the book and wanted to see how they worked through to the ending. It’s a fun read, and the idea of magicians bonding to one particular medium was a nice twist. But I wasn’t pulled into the world enough to move on to the next book in the series.