The Paper Magician

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
(Paper Magician trilogy #1)
Published: 9-1-2014 by 47North
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

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.


Design – Ryan Hobson      Rating – 5/5

This is a beautiful cover. It’s graphic and simple. Everything about it is blowing my mind. The wrinkled paper background, the color scheme, the way the dress frames the title and runs off the page. I love the simplicity of the font and the way the title is spiced up with the shadows and cursive ‘the.’ I also really like the heart and plane made of paper, and how they are labeled as figures like a scientific diagram. I wish there were more covers like this out there.

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The Paper Magician follows 19-year-old Ceony in her new apprenticeship as a paper magician. Ceony had her heart set on being a metal magician, but due to a shortage of Folders is assigned to be Emery Thane’s apprentice. Thane is a loner but teaches Ceony to appreciate paper before being attacked, forcing Ceony to go on a literal journey through Thane’s heart to save him. I enjoyed it but was not expecting the literal and also strangely figurative trip into Thane’s heart and it threw me off.

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  • Ceony – It’s easy to feel sorry for Ceony because she’s so upset over the unfair situation that has led to her bonding for life to paper magic rather than metal magic. I like that Ceony didn’t dwell on it. She got on with her life. She finds joy in cooking meals for herself and Thane and is appreciative of the things that he is teaching her about paper magic. I found Ceony’s complete willingness to risk her own life in order to rescue her new teacher impressive. She doesn’t hold it against him that she couldn’t bond to metal and she tries to understand and befriend Thane.
  • Thane + Ceony’s scholarship – The story of Ceony’s scholarship being canceled and then mysteriously reinstated is highly amusing. I’m glad that Ceony reacted as she did to the situation at hand, even though her reaction lead to the cancellation. I love that Thane witnessed it and decided to donate a scholarship to this girl he’d never met. It shows how kind and thoughtful Thane is and how little he values money.
  • paper magic – Paper magic, also known as Folding, does seem pretty useless and dull at first. Despite attending a prestigious magic school, Ceony really has no idea what the possibilities of paper magic are until she meets Thane. But the things that Thane shows Ceony are amazing. He can use paper to make snowflakes that feel cold, can use it to build a dog that actually acts like a dog, and use it to defend himself. Really the entire world Ceony and Thane inhabit has really imaginative uses for the materials the magicians use.

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  • Thane’s heart – I found the trip through Thane’s heart confusing. Ceony encounters different versions of Thane, as well as many of his most important memories. Each chamber of Thane’s heart is a different emotion (I guess emotion is the best way to put it). One is everything happy, one is angry, and I can’t really describe the others. So, Ceony must deal with Thane’s lifetime of emotions while being pursued by evil magician Lira. Ceony is also somehow physically inside Thane’s heart, squeezing her way through to each new chamber. It was a bit difficult to keep up with where Ceony was and where Lira was in relation to Ceony.
  • Lira’s insults – Clearly, Lira is the villain of this story. That’s hard to miss due to her attack on Thane and her being a blood magician that kills people to use her magic. My main issue with Lira is her insults to Ceony, all of which are based on Lira’s perception that Ceony loves Thane. Lira is Thane’s ex and calls Ceony stupid, taunting her that Thane doesn’t love her. The most objectionable, for me, is when Lira calls Ceony Thane’s whore. I mean, slow down a second. Thane and Lira’s failed relationship is, at least from what we’re shown, all Lira’s fault. Ceony had no choice as to which magician she was assigned to apprentice with. She barely knows Thane. I feel like maybe the world these characters live in promotes Lira’s behavior to some degree, as it is clearly stated that apprenticeships are ideally same-gendered as if no one is expected to behave themselves.
  • Thane’s age – Ceony is 19, almost 20, and I believe Thane is around 30. Maybe it’s just me and my preference for books about teens and young adults, but I had a hard time finding Thane attractive, mainly due to his age. If he’d been maybe 5 years older than Ceony it would be easier for me to see her attraction to him. Also, his purple coat made him sound a bit like a slightly creepy guy who wears a trench coat daily no matter the weather. I do understand that Thane is a very caring man who wants Ceony to be happy despite her disappointment with becoming a paper magician.

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Part of her still held the disappointment of becoming a Folder, but another part felt strange sitting before Mg. Thane now, knowing what he had done for her and not knowing any of the reasons. Knowing that letter she had drafted and redrafted four times to her donor had actually gone to him. No etiquette class or textbook had ever explained to her how to handle a situation like this.      – Ceony   Loc. 303

“I’m going to teach you something I really shouldn’t be teaching you.”

“But given the circumstances,” she urged.

He nodded. His lip quirked. “Given the circumstances. Just pretend to forget it once this is over…if either of us makes it past this.”      – Emery + Ceony     Loc. 2528

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3 Robots

Acquired: Netgalley (ebook)


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