The Paper Ma­gi­cian - Charlie N. Holm­berg

The Star (St. Lucia) - - BOOKS - Re­viewed by Clau­dia Elei­box

Charlie N. Holm­berg’s The Paper Ma­gi­cian is the per­fect sum­mer read. Set in the late 1800s in Eng­land, the story cen­tres on Ceony Twill, a young lady who is about to be­gin her ap­pren­tice­ship with Ma­gi­cian Emery Thane. Ceony grad­u­ated at the top of her class at the Tagis Praff School for the Mag­i­cally In­clined and, as such, should have had top pick of which man-made ma­te­rial would be the source of her magic. Want­ing to be a Smelder – those who were able to use magic through metal, Ceony is in­stead as­signed to be an ap­pren­tice as a Folder us­ing paper to chan­nel her magic. En­tirely unim­pressed with her cir­cum­stances, Ceony ar­rives at Ma­gi­cian Thane’s cot­tage to be­gin her tute­lage. While she is in­trigued by her men­tor, she’s con­vinced the Ma­gi­cian is in­cred­i­bly odd.

Ceony, a step closer to ac­cept­ing her new path, learns the beauty of paper magic with Ma­gi­cian Thane’s pa­tient guid­ance. She learns how to an­i­mate paper so that hand­made snowflakes flut­ter down and, like real ones, are cold to the touch. She learns how to cre­ate an­i­mals, bring­ing them to life with sim­ple com­mands. Ma­gi­cian Thane gifts Ceony a small paper dog, af­ter a con­ver­sa­tion in which Ceony re­veals she had to leave her beloved dog at home be­cause of her tu­tor’s al­ler­gies. It is then she re­al­izes there is much more to her men­tor than she first thought. Dur­ing a ses­sion when Ceony reads Ma­gi­cian Thane’s for­tune, an im­age of a dark-haired woman ap­pears in Ceony’s mind with the name Lira. Shortly af­ter this, Ma­gi­cian Thane leaves on a mys­te­ri­ous quest for six days, leav­ing Ceony to won­der where he’s gone.

Ma­gi­cian Thane re­turns home and soon af­ter the woman from Ceony’s vi­sion, Lira, barges into the cot­tage, at­tack­ing Ceony and rip­ping out Ma­gi­cian Thane’s heart. It is then Ceony learns that Lira is an Ex­ci­sioner, a prac­ti­tioner of the dark magic that com­mands the flesh. Ma­gi­cians can only ma­nip­u­late ma­te­ri­als that are man-made and some be­lieve that be­cause hu­mans are born and could tech­ni­cally be con­sid­ered as be­ing made from man, they have the right to con­trol hu­mans. Ceony quickly fash­ions a paper heart and puts it in Ma­gi­cian Thane’s chest to keep him alive.

Ceony em­barks on a re­mark­able jour­ney that lit­er­ally takes her through Ma­gi­cian Thane’s heart. As she un­cov­ers the se­crets of who he is and how Lira is con­nected to him, she learns more about the ma­te­rial she is bound to, how to de­feat Lira and her own grow­ing feel­ings for her men­tor. Each cham­ber of Ma­gi­cian Thane’s heart holds those mem­o­ries and hopes most dear to him, but it also re­veals his fears and his doubts and Ceony must make her way through all four cham­bers to save him.

Holm­berg has weaved a de­light­ful story rem­i­nis­cent of The Night Cir­cus that quickly en­snares readers and leaves them ask­ing for more. Writ­ten in a lan­guage suit­able for young adults but still ap­peal­ing for adults, The Paper Ma­gi­cian is an ex­cel­lent book to read for some light en­ter­tain­ment this sum­mer and is avail­able at The bookYard.

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