Everyone has a dark side! But it’s their choice whether or not they cultivate it.

The Paper Magician (Paper Magician #1)

Charlie N. Holmberg | 2014 | 224 Pages


The Plotpapermagician


Ceony Twill has just graduated from magic school and is starting her apprenticeship. Only… she’s stuck in a program she doesn’t want to do. Heck, a program nobody wants to do. Things actually exceed her expectations, until a mysterious figure from her teacher’s past shows up to wreck havoc.


I love fantasy books. I love seeing how different authors use magic in different ways, creating methods and means for their supernatural characters. The magic system in this particular book was quite interesting, with magicians specializing in one material and one material only (hint… Ceony’s stuck with paper). The first bit of the book is whimsical and captivating as it reveals the secrets of this world.  I found the uses of paper to be clever and inventive, but once that exposition ended the book got… well… meh.



A book cannot survive on a cute premise alone. (Well, maybe it can, hence the entire children’s book industry I suppose). Once Paper Magician moves into the conflict it loses much of its magic. The story tries to fit too much into too few pages. We need a backstory, a villain, and a romance obviously, but the way all of that goes down feels very messy and lazy. And why only go 224 pages? Was the author on some insane deadline? Even getting to 300, which feels like nothing these days, would’ve helped the plot immensely.

For example, the book spends a huge chunk of its already short page count in a strange vision sequence, which feels like the cheater’s way out of actually explaining who the character in question is. Why let things unfold in a normal, well paced way when you can bash the reader over the head with convenient visions?

Furthermore, the magic, once in use, becomes inconsistent. Maybe some of this gets explained in future books,  but what can be controlled and for what reason starts making less and less sense as things go on. And while I’m talking about inconsistencies- the book is anachronistic as hell. Yeah sure, London with magic in 1900 will obviously be somewhat different than the real London of that time, but this book is just all over the place when it comes to social normals, dialog…. everything. I frequently forgot when it was supposed to take place. It honestly could’ve been set at any time, so why the author specifically went with Victorian England only to half-ass it is a little confusing.

And don’t get me going on the love story. It too is cliche, lazy, and totally expected.

Should You Read This?

It was on Amazon Unlimited and I needed something light to listen to. So if that’s the situation you’re also in go for it.The narrator is

That said, the narrator on audible is really, really bad. She narrates in her native American accent but then attempts to do the dialog in British ones and it sounds terrible. But if you can get over that and just want a silly magic story it’s not the worst thing I’ve read or heard. My review is probably harsher than I intended to be, but I am currently reading the second book, so that means something I guess.