Thoughts on The Paper Magician Trilogy by Charlie N. Holmberg

Paper-Magician-RD-3-fullsizeFrom the author’s websiteCeony 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.

Glass MagicianAn 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.

(This is the description of the first book. I don’t want to spoil anything, so if you want to know what the other two are about, you’re on your own. ;)) (<–Proper use of you’re/your. Grammar nerds: you’re welcome.)

So here’s my experience with reading this trilogy:

I’d heard about it and seen it on sale on Amazon. So I checked out the first book from the library. I read about 6 chapters and abandoned it. I checked it out again a month or two later and never read it. Then I saw it on sale again and bought the whole series on Kindle.

MasterMagician-19817-CV-FT-V4By then, I was determined. Once I broke my reading slump, I picked it up and read it with no problem. In fact, I stayed up till 2am finishing it (Signs You’re Reading a Good Book #1).

I immediately read the sequel the next day.

I started the third book a couple days later, but my heart wasn’t in it. (I’ll tell you why: the romantic tension was gone. I kind of hate books where the main love interests are already together.) I pushed through, but it took me about a week to finally read the whole thing.


All that being said, here are a couple thoughts.

-I really REALLY love Ceony as a character. All three of the books’ plots are driven by her actions; she says to herself, “Self, I can’t sit and wait around for something to happen here. Sitting and waiting will waste valuable time that my enemies will use to kill people. Let’s go be useful.” Ceony as a driving force of the narrative is downright refreshing, and it makes me forgive pretty much all the problems I have with these books.

-The romantic dynamic of the second book is my favorite. It’s the very common “everyone but you can see how into you he is” trope, but the buildup is beautiful and gave me many many feels.

-I kind of wish Paper Magic were portrayed differently? Because of the materials that magicians in these books use (paper, glass, metal, rubber, plastic… am I forgetting any?), paper is the oldest, right? (Wait I forgot about fire, which is the actual oldest, but anyway.) Was magic discovered first by using paper? Shouldn’t that lend the art of Paper Magic a certain mysticism? Instead, it’s generally regarded as the most boring of the materials. I’d have loved to have seen Paper Magicians portrayed as mystics, dedicated to their craft and  their superiority and stuff, like the Illuminati or something. But then… that would have been a different book.

-At the end of the first book, Ceony does something New and Different with Paper Magic… which is pretty much never addressed again. Why is that? I wish it had been developed more. (I mean, it’s discussed later, but she never tries to take it any further. What else can she do with this particular technique? What does this mean about the nature of magic? Can other materials also be used the same way? Nope. None of those questions are ever answered. By book 3, it’s completely forgotten.)

-The third book centers around some information that Ceony is given at the end of the second book. And what bothers me about it is how little work she put into obtaining the information. Like, some guy just tells her. She doesn’t study it out, she doesn’t go through a million iterations and a bunch of trial-and-error. Somebody just mentions it. Ceony is such a force of action in these novels! I don’t love that this information, which will hugely impact the rest of her life, was something she obtained so very passively.

-One of my friends on Goodreads mentioned that she got weirded out when Ceony goes into Thane’s heart in the first book. Personally, I thought that aspect of the novel was beyond cool. The four chambers of his heart are filled with different memories/hopes for the future, and I loved it all.