Ah, the second book curse. One of the most difficult things to do is write a good second book. Many of my least favorite books in series are the second books. It’s a rough thing to accomplish.

In the first book, the author gets to introduce you to a new world. Everything is magical (especially in a magical series). You don’t have to be live up to anything yet, and you’re not bound by anything either.

In the second book, you now have to delve further into the world and justify why there’s not only a second book, but also a third (and fourth, fifth, etc.). You’re bound by the rules you’ve already made, and now you can’t just introduce something new and pretend it’s a fact in that universe. If you did, you’d be called out by your fandom.

Man, I wish I had a fandom.

Anyway, today we’re here to talk about The Glass Magician, followup to The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Homberg.

The series follows a newly apprenticed magician as she plies her skills with plies of paper.

Sorry, it couldn’t be helped.

Anyway, the last time we saw Ceony, she had just defeated the woman who stole her mentor’s heart. Literally. And then Ceony took her down in the most badass way possible.

Now we’re a few months later, and she’s learning more about paper magic, and then all heck breaks loose. Heck, I tell you.

The series has a quaint charm to it being set in the early 1900s in an alternate reality where magic is just a part of the world, like any other craft. It’s a late Victorian-era setting, which adds a bit of whimsy that you don’t usually get from magic series, especially these days where authors are going after gritty realism (though this series has it’s moments that will make you flinch).

As with any second book, now the author has to flesh out the world the characters are living in. She does a good job if not a perfect job. The first book’s charm was largely in its encapsulated adventure. There wasn’t much exposition, but a second book can’t really pull that off. The second book has to fill out the world a bit more.

Granted, you don’t get a lot of exposition, but you get some. I get the feeling that’s not the author’s strength. She’s good with action, but having calm conversations? Not quite so much.

But that’s ok. She largely focuses on her strengths. If the first book was mainly one long adventure, the second book was a series of smaller ones. I’ve started the third, so it’ll be interesting to see how things go.

As with most series, you’re seeing the hero have an arc and clearly be a person who will do great things. I think one of things that does kind of disappoint is that the protagonist picks things up quickly, so she’s not fully the plucky underdog. Basically, imagine Harry Potter focusing on Hermione and ditching Harry and Ron. Fewer shenanigans and a lot more competency.

But we’ll see how the series closes things out. If nothing else, the series is a quick read.

-Q

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