Book Review – The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Charlie N. Holmberg

Reviewed by:
On 2014-10-03
Last modified:2014-10-03


A bit over sentimental, but altogether not bad.

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The blurb unfolds:

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.

Before I even started reading the book I was impressed by the idea of paper/origami magic – coming up with an original magic system is quite an achievement.  The reality of it ended up being less exciting, but it’s still original.

The first thing that struck me was the oddly unpronounceable names of the characters and places.  Coupled with this were some difficult to parse sentences which made the beginning of the book slow going, but this got better as the book went on.  I assume this is an inexperienced author and that they will only get better.

The blurb actually mentions that  a major plot point is travelling through someone’s heart/soul to save them, but I’d forgotten by the time I started reading the book.  This meant that I thought the book was going to be about the main character’s education, when instead it was mostly a series flashbacks showing the other character’s life.  This isn’t really bad, it just left me with feeling like the majority of the book was actually an interlude.

I liked that the main character was a woman and that she had agency and sacrificed to achieve her goals.

There is a cool twist at the end that leaves a door open for interesting things in further books.