Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

When someone can make origami creations come to life, tell actual futures from fortuity boxes, and bring forth actual images from within books just by reading them be impressed, dang it! That's the one thing that really stuck with me about this book. In this world, a version of 18th century England, people can study the magics of manmade materials and manipulate them into doing miraculous things. This has potential for a lot of creative ideas. Let's see just how this unfolds (see what I did there?)

Ceony Twill is most displeased. After graduating from the magic academy, she's forced into becoming a folder, a magician bound to paper, and only paper, for the rest of her life. This means giving up on her dream of being a smelter (a metal magician) but to refuse means that she'll forego any magic for good. Things don't seem as bad after she meets Emery Thane, her mentor with whom she's sent to live. He teaches her that there's a lot to paper magic than she could have ever dreamed. But when an evil magician from Thane's past comes along and inflicts a terrible injury upon him, Ceony takes it upon herself to save him before it's too late.

Now, as I said earlier, the concept of this leads to a great many good ideas. Seeing just some of the things that Thane and Ceony are able to do with just paper is really impressive. Animated dogs and birds and even a skeleton butler and just some of the creations that they use in this. It's all very interesting and makes you appreciate paper of all things. This also opens up a lot of possibilities for what other magicians can do. Just what is a glass magician capable of? A plastic magician? A rubber magician? If a book can makes me want to know more about the magical capabilities of rubber, it's done something right.

And then...there's the other stuff. First off, I wasn't entirely sure I was going to like Ceony all that much. For a girl who dislikes smugness and arrogance, she's pretty smug and arrogant. The first couple chapters with her have to be the hardest. Bemoaning her terrible luck at being forced to practice a material she dislikes is pretty much all she does for a long time and I got real tired of the "Well, if I had been a smelter...", "If only I could have been a smelter...", "A smelter wouldn't have this problem...". It got old, is what I'm saying. Still, when we got to the meat of the story (there's a pun you'd have to have read the book to get), she does fight and get the job done. Her whining does subside, but she was just kind of hot and cold for me. While the master magician, Thane, had some interesting aspects to him, such as the patience of a saint and some cool bits of paper magic, I found him a bit bland. Just another generic nice guy and yeah, we learn a lot about him, but nothing really stood out that made an impact on me.

About this plot...well, I hope you like flashbacks. The book takes a turn from an apprenticeship story about teacher and student learning to get along to Ceony traipsing through her master's memories. This is all pretty much an attempt at making a rushed romance make more sense. A rushed romance between nineteen year old and a man over a decade older than she is. Then again, it's the 18th century, so there is that. My biggest pet peeve is she's witnessing all these memories and flashbacks and personal experiences...by going through his heart. I get it. It's symbolic and stuff but....hearts don't retain memories! Hearts are organs that pump blood. That's it! If you wanted to take a dive into his psyche, you'd look through his brain! Yeah, it's less romantic and all but...this really bothered me.

With those things out of the way, the climax of the book was actually pretty satisfactory, which I admit I hadn't been anticipating. This book also got kind of gory at times and I actually kind of admired that, surprisingly. It took a gross situation and kept it gross. Things came together in a serious mix of blood and magic and the conclusion kept things interesting, even if I wasn't crazy about the main character or the budding romance.

Final Verdict
Much like paper itself, this story had potential but was dry and unremarkable. I didn't hate it or anything, I just found it didn't have much of an impact. Still, it had some good moments and creativity so, if you were interested, I'd say check it out but wait for it on paperback (I did it again! Man, I'm really punny today).

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Have a book you'd like me to review or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next time: Inception, this is not....

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