So it turns out that I’m a sucker for books with magic. I’m sure a shrink would have a field day. In the meantime, let’s get to the most recent magical book that I’ve finished: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg.
TL;DR, fun, quick book that has a different quirk in its take on magic.
The Paper Magician is something that I kept seeing around, but I never fully felt the urge to read it. It was only vaguely interesting. And honestly, with some bias thrown in, I think the Mary Poppins-esque cover caused me some problems. It looks like it could be a Jane Austen cover, and that’s not really what I’m looking for in my magical books.
And then the whole series was available for $2 a piece, so I jumped at it. I figured, worst case, $6 for one book was a pretty good deal, much less a three-book series.
This book didn’t jump to the front of the line as quickly as Fangirl did, but it still only set in the queue for a bit more than a month (for contrast Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 has been sitting for almost a year [also, I just now got the joke of the title] and Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim has been sitting for a year and half).
Normally I try to switch between lighter and heavier books, but this time I wasn’t feeling it. I did at least switch to a different type of book.
The Paper Magician follows a recent graduate of a magic school, but they’re not able to do magic until they’re apprenticed. They’re learning theory only. Basically, pretend Doloris Umbridge got her way in the fifth Harry Potter book. Our protagonist, Ceony, is beginning her life as a paper magician, despite the fact that she graduate at the top of her class and did not want to be a paper magician. So few people want to be paper magicians that the organizing body forces some graduates to be.
In this magical world, magicians are able to act their magic out through man-made materials, such as paper, glass, and metal, but once they bond with a material, that’s the only one they can use forever.
This is why Ceony is not exactly pleased to be a paper magician.
And of course, there are the baddies: They bond to human flesh because it is technically man-made. For a book that’s light on gore, the bad guys are actually pretty heinous in terms of the mental image that’s produced.
Ceony is apprenticed to an eccentric fellow (it’s set in London, so fellow sounds right proper) and begins properly learning paper magic.
The book’s a bit more than 200 pages, and it does not dawdle. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that just punches you in the face with where it’s going, and I liked it.
There was not much time spent developing the characters before the adventure began. Part of what makes this a different take on things is that the adventure is how you learn the backstories.
This also isn’t much in the way of a love story, though the undercurrents are there.
All in all, it was well worth the $2 I paid for it. Now I actually feel a little bad about not paying full price the other times I’ve run across it, but I’ll finish out the series and keep an eye out for Holmberg’s other books to see if she has options that catch my eye.