The Paper Magician

The Paper Magician - Charlie N. Holmberg

I got really excited when I saw this book and the next one in the series in the Read Now section of Netgalley. Sadly I delayed with it for very long, and had the file expire on me during my reading, but luckily I was able to finish this one.

I was rather surprised when I checked the Goodreads page for this book after it came out and saw the rather mixed and mediocre reviews. From what I read in the summary I thought this book would be wonderful and was curious why people had such reactions to it. After reading the book myself however I can definitely understand some of the arguments various readers have put forth.

It’s very hard for me to judge “The Paper Magician” as it both does and doesn’t deliver on its promise. Let’s start with what it does wonderfully:

The paper folding. I think this is one of the few books where I can say without any hesitation that the author clearly set their premises and defined their terms. We find out the various types of magicians that there are and what exactly they do, as well as are left very informed with the art of Folding itself. It makes my day to read these kinds of books where I know what I’m reading and the author doesn’t just throw out a magical premise at me. Adding to that the cast of characters was also very good – well rounded, developed, not too much romance, not too brash either. So what was the problem?

Well…everything else.

I must admit I expected some more “pizazz”, something more whimsical ala Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus”. And I didn’t quite get that. Unlike many other readers I was doing great for the first% of the book, and then when Lira appeared in the story everything went somewhat dry for me. The plot was cool, don’t get me wrong – stealing the heart, creating one out of paper, the whole adventure Ceony goes on to retrieve it, it’s all very well thought through and clever. But I didn’t quite feel it. Something was missing, and that something made it really tempting to skim through some of the sections because I got the general idea and just wanted to know what exactly happened next. It became a page turner, but the kind where you’re anticipating the next page more than you care to concentrate on what’s in front of you at the moment.

I’m not sure who the target audience for this book really is. It’s general enough to appeal to almost anyone, but its confusing parameters in terms of the time frame might throw readers off initially – it took me some time to realize that the story was set at the beginning of the 20th century.

Give this one a go, I would say. Maybe I wasn’t as fulfilled because I already have my ‘ideals’ in the whimsical-fantasy books department. Sadly the galley for the second book in the series expired and the archive date passed, so now I have no way of reading it, because I’d actually be interested in seeing where this will go next. But for me this didn’t go beyond just being a nice, light, somewhat fluffy story that I read before bed for a few days. It was pretty good but I fear it’ll fade from memory rather quickly as “The Paper Magician” doesn’t offer much when it comes to standing out from what is a rather crowded genre.