Stephen King once said “love is a uniquely portable magic,” and if so, “The Paper Magician” by Charlie N. Holmberg must be a kind of love. Scheduled for release Sept. 1, this spine-chilling novel is one that you will want to carry with you everywhere you go until you finish it.
Holmberg reveals the dark side of what magic can do in her debut novel through the eyes of apprentice Ceony Twill. The glimmer of being selected to work as an apprentice with metals quickly fades away for Ceony when she is assigned as an apprentice to paper.
Graduating at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned to bond with paper at the home of Magician Thane, where he quickly begins to teach her how to manipulate and enchant paper. But when Ceony faces dark magic, the question is, will paper be strong enough to overcome it?
When Lira, an Excisioner (one who practices dark magic) bursts into Thane’s home and rips out his heart, it is up to Ceony to save his life. While at first, this story sounds like a knock-off combination of “Harry Potter” and the television series, “Once Upon a Time,” it is worth reading to the end to find out how the author spins her own, unique tale of magic.
Before his heart is stolen, Thane, while instructing Ceony on how to fold paper to properly cast spells, says, “Never dismiss the value of entertainment, Ceony. Good-quality entertainment is free, and it’s something everyone wants.” This is exactly what “The Paper Magician” is.
Holmberg paints a vivid picture that nearly pops off the page for the reader. The scenes are intense, and there is never a dull moment as we follow Ceony through the four chambers of Thane’s heart. Ceony experiences flashes of Thane’s memories, marvelous moments from his past and his deepest secrets, giving insight into the beliefs of both characters as she tries to win his heart back from Lira.
One of the most remarkable aspects of this novel is that we learn about the characters through their interactions during the past and present simultaneously.
While the novel has many fascinating aspects and charming characters, I personally believe that it is underdeveloped. At only 226 pages, it can easily be read in a day or two. Throughout the work, many action-packed moments happen and then are quickly brushed off as another takes place.
At points, the cohesiveness of the magic world and the real world does not exist and it seems a bit hard to believe. The last chapter of the novel is my biggest issue because, it feels incredibly rushed, as if Holmberg had run out of time to finish writing and wanted to wrap everything up in just a few sentences.
If you can take yourself out of the real world for a little while and imagine yourself as one learning how to be a magician, this novel will easily become one of your favorites. With a little bit of magic, romance and suspense, “The Paper Magician” is truly a fun and exciting summer read for anyone who needs a break from the real world.