The Paper Magician

Happy October 1st! It’s that time of year full of spook and thrill and more than a little bit of magic.

I think EVERYONE is reading The Paper Magician right now, which is strange since it was published a year ago. I jumped on the bandwagon when a friend’s YA bookclub was reading it. Unfortunately my library didn’t get it to me in time (one day late, dangit!), but I’m so glad I ordered it!

I was amused by the shortness of this one. Compared to everything else in its genre, this book is tiny at only 224 pages. It sure packs a punch though. The brevity means Charlie Holmberg has no time to waste with overdramatic character descriptions and backstories. We know that Ceony Twill is magical student recently graduated and moving into her internship, and she’s not happy about her placement with a Paper Magician. Her teacher, however, is a kind, enthusiastic (albeit strange) man, who folds her into his passion (get it…folds…badaCHING). A mysterious telegram comes across the wire though, and suddenly threads of danger weave their way into the quiet strangeness of their sanctuary.

I think the succinctness of this plot is its strength. Too much more detail here would ruin it, especially in the middle. The crux of the story gets pretty intense and gory (queasy stomachs, beware), and while it’s beautiful in a goth sort of way…I certainly wouldn’t want to spend any longer inside that heart scene.

The sequel has my curiosity piqued enough to add it to The List. I probably won’t rush out and pick it up immediately, I’ll just get to it when I get to it. I’m mostly wishy washy because of Ceony’s attitude, TBH. OK–I get it–you didn’t want to be a paper magician. I’ll be interested to see if she does anything with the other specialties…but either she needs to become a superhero magician at everything (which I don’t think is the goal in these short blast books), or she needs to settle down and focus.


My reviews always get written immediately after I finish a book, while my impressions are fresh. I write it, schedule it (because most of the time I’m ahead of myself, so I’m doing a post a few days ahead of when it’ll go live), and move on to the next book. There are a lot of pros to that way of doing things…but every once in awhile I leave a book KNOWING that something bothers me and not knowing why. I kind of had that feeling with The Paper Magician. When I wrote that last paragraph, I mentioned that I am wishy washy about finishing the series.

NOW I KNOW WHY! In a regularly-paced book, I pay a bit more attention to the writing. Obviously, there’s more writing to which to pay attention. In a short book, I rush. I am just never as invested because I am always 50 pages until the end. That’s nothing!

In our AdultBooklr Chat this evening, Lakin from Reading-Raven mentioned that she was struggling with The Paper Magician. Why?

“The adjectives. are. so. bad.”

OH MY GOD SHE’S RIGHT. Everything is “sage-green cloth napkin” and “red-painted lips.” There’s nothing without some kind of descriptor like that. I randomly flipped to two pages out of 214, and found both of those immediately.

I’m going to keep my original rating at 3. But I’m removing the rest of the series from my TBR. Not worth continuing.



The Paper Magicians by Charlie Holmberg earns 3 Book Dragons




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