Title: The Paper Magician
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
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This book was kind of weird for me. A friend was reading it and, since it was free on Kindle Unlimited, I decided to check it out as well! I like having a stash of “easy to read, but still entertaining” books to get me through long days at work. So, the basic premise. Ceony Twill (oh with the names again!) is a recent graduate of magic school and, despite being the best in her class, which means she should have her pick of magic types, she is apprenticed to a paper magician. Paper magicians are a dying breed, even in early 1900’s England. She’s basically conned into taking this, as once a magician is bonded to their substance, it can not be changed. So, off she goes!
Now, you might think this is a book about a young girl leaning the art of magic from her slightly-but-not-too-inappropriately-older-and-quite-handsome mentor (more on that later), and all the trials and tribulations that come along with that, but you’d probably be wrong. Well, okay, the first half is like that. Ceony is bonded, she hates it, but resigns herself to spending the rest of her life making paper frogs hop and paper birds fly. She doesn’t see the point in such silly magic, but as she is a dilligent student who just happens to have an eidetic memory. (*eyeroll*). She also gets an awesome paper dog, Fennel, made for her by her mentor, Emery Thane, since he’s allergic and she can’t have a real dog.
Okay, so we’re all good. She’s learning, their bonding, Fennel is awesome (seriously, he’s the best character in this whole thing), and then shit goes sideways. Lira, a mysterious woman from Emery’s past, storms into the house after Ceony’s been there for a week or so, literally rips out Emery’s heart, and takes off. What. The. Fuck. Ceony, who has of course been studying an anatomy book, makes him a paper heart to use temporarily, calls up her hold headmistress, and ends up taking off to chase down Lira, who’s an outlaw flesh magician, on her own. Good God, enough with these “completely untrained magicians take on the all powerful ones” storylines. I’m done.
And this is where it gets really weird. The second half of the book basically takes place in Emery’s heart. I have to give Holmberg credit for trying something new. It was interesting and different, but I don’t know that it worked. Basically, Ceony gets to explore all that is Emery, while being chased by Lira. There are parts that are just gross, honestly, and others that made me roll my eyes so hard they almost fell out. Seeing all his memories makes Ceony fall in love with him, natch. He’s 31. She’s 18. He’s her teacher. The whole thing just makes me uncomfortable in so many ways and why why why did they have to go there????
So, this book is different and weird, not necessarily in good ways. There are two more books in the series which I will probably read and hate myself for.