The Paper Magician Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
“Charlie is a vibrant writer with an excellent voice and great world building. I thoroughly enjoyed the Paper Magician.” —Brandon Sanderson, author of Mistborn and The Way of Kings
Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic...forever.
Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined - animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.
An Excisioner - a practitioner of dark, flesh magic - invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart - and reveal the very soul of the man.
From the imaginative mind of debut author Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician is an extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that will delight fans of all ages.
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|Listening Length||7 hours and 25 minutes|
|Author||Charlie N. Holmberg|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 01, 2014|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #9,557 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#8 in Gaslamp Fantasy (Audible Books & Originals)
#17 in Steampunk Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#43 in Steampunk Fiction
Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2020
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Top reviews from the United States
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I don't feel bad about reading "The Paper Magician." It's not a bad book. It's not a great book. Mostly what I really feel after finishing "The Paper Magician" is disappointment. Not a lot mind you, but enough that I wish Holmberg had done a slightly better job.
Holmberg does have a good introduction. It did not take more than a couple words for me to be whisked away into this new world seeking out adventure and excitement. The first several chapters kept my anticipation levels high as everything started clicking together and I could start to see the outline of something great. Next thing I know, it happened - the great catalyst that sends a story screeching out to the wild blue where heroes are made, and villains are ended. "This is it!" I thought as Ceony is thrust into the start of her adventure - and then the rest of the book is spent with the heroine literally flailing around in her mentors memories and emotions.
The previous reading experience that keeps floating through my head as I try to wrap my thoughts around what kept this book from being "great" is camping. Camping is a lot of fun (or can be), but when read in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" it dragged the story to a slow crawl. The same holds true when Ceony goes "camping" (figuratively, not literally) in her adventure. Instead of growing and making her own story, we spend endless chapters learning about Thane's past. Without looking it up, my recollection is that more than half the book is spent flailing (literally, not figuratively) around in events that have little to no impact to the actual outcome of the story, or growth of the main character other than falling in love with the first person who has been "nice" to her.
Again, this is not a bad book. Three stars is not horrible, but there is definatly much room for improvement in my opinion. I was interested in reading the second book in the series to see if things improve any for Ceony's story, but the reviews already written for that book lead me to believe that is not the case. I will be spending my money elsewhere for now, but I'll keep Holmberg in mind next time I don't have anything already high up on my reading wishlist.
As the story moved along, I found myself becoming disappointed as I felt the book didn't live up to its potential. The character development fell rather flat and I found myself annoyed by the immature behavior of the protagonist - I often had to remind myself she is 19 years old in the book since she came across as someone much, much younger. I especially needed to remind myself of this as the romance factor was introduced. Even with her being 19, there was a definite "ick" factor and since her behaviour was so juvenile, I had a double "ick" factor.
The premise of the magic is what saved the book for me but even that wasn't developed to its full potential. The folding was such an intricate part to the success of the plot that I wish the author had taken more time to expand on it. Great start but suffered due to the romance taking over.
Bottom line: While some of the whimsical aspects reminded me a lot of the early Harry Potter books, the comparison to those was its downfall. While J.K. Rowling maintained the creativity throughout seven books, this author wasn't able to capitalize on a brilliant idea. While I think this book might very well be appreciated by the YA reader (much better than "Twilight" or other novels geared toward this age group), I didn't find it to be a particularly engaging read for the adult reader who appreciates YA and is looking for more than a romance story with some magic thrown in.
Top reviews from other countries
However, there are always exceptions.
I have awarded ‘The Paper Magician’ series as a whole one star. That is in recognition of the quirky and original concept of the limitation of ‘magic’ to man-made materials, and a series of tales that seek to explore the potential and limitations of such a concept.
The style of the writing, and the quality of the characterisations, lead one to believe that the target readership is young female US teenagers. And that’s O.K. As far as it goes.
However, for some reason (presumably as some post-modernist ‘hommage’ to the Gothic horror genre epitomised by Jane Austen’s ‘Northanger Abbey’), the writer has chosen to set the series in what she apparently believes to be late Victorian/ early Edwardian England.
And this is where things go horribly, horribly wrong.
It is a fundamental maxim of all good writing that, in order to create a compelling narrative, and draw the reader into one’s fiction, it must be, as far as is possible within the constraints of the story, credible.
Unfortunately, having decided that London at the opening of the twentieth century would be a suitable stage on which to set her ‘magnum opus, the writer then chooses completely to ignore every shred of British social history, geography, language, architecture, and all else.
The characters use modern US English throughout (even including the misbegotten “Can I get”, (which only reached the shores of the UK a scant decade ago) instead of the polite “Please may I have”. Scarcely a page goes by without some incongruent and completely non-contemporaneous Americanism, which destroys any possible connection, in the mind of a European reader, with the alleged historical setting.
As if that were not insult enough, the writer assumes that Britain (and London in particular) is some sort of mirror-image of a small, mid-West American town. London houses are described with ‘shingle’ roofs, and wooden porches. The carrying of firearms by the civilian population and the police is frequently assumed – and towns are even described as having ‘Sheriff’s Offices’.
One does not know why no proper background research has apparently been carried out. Whatever the reason, it makes for the most uncomfortable reading on the Eastern side of the Atlantic.
Even more seriously, it is a great disservice to a young and impressionable American readership, especially at a time when the US really needs to embrace and learn from the diversity of the world’s more mature cultures, and the rich tapestry of the world’s history, rather than retreat into ignorant isolationism.
Comparisons with the work of authors of the stature of Susanna Clarke and J K Rowling are also fundamentally misplaced.
The premise of the book sounded intriguing. Unfortunately The Paper Magician just fell a bit flat for me. I realise with a fantasy book you have to be able to suspend disbelief, but this story had more holes in it than a watering can. I found the main protagonist not particularly endearing, which made it difficult to care about what happened. So many major plot points were just brushed over. The entire book felt rushed, or maybe it was me rushing through it to get to the end.
Then the numerous inaccuracies (foulness island is flat, there certainly aren't any cliffs), and usage of Americanisms (mom, gravy and biscuits, pants etc). It seemed like the author wanted a steampunk series set in Victorian Britain. The basic lack of research and knowledge of Britain, suggests she should have instead set the trilogy in America.
It wasn't a terrible book and I will read The Glass Magician, the second one in the trilogy. However, if I hadn't already purchased the remainder of the series, or if they weren't such quick easy reads, I probably wouldn't bother reading the others and wasting time on an average series.
I loved the concept of magic in this, the idea that someone can be bonded to a certain material and then wield that material in fascinating ways was definitely intriguing, but sadly it wasn’t executed terribly well. Very little detail is provided about how this magic works. Like, can anyone train for it? Or do they need a certain affinity? It sounded like Ceony just studied for a year and was eligible but surely it can’t be that easy?
There was also very little explained about how it actually works. Ceony folds paper and then “breathes” life into it but how did she come to have this skill? How come she can just do it and doesn’t need to train or learn? It was all just too basic for me.
I liked Ceony and Emery well enough and I think with a better execution of the storyline I could’ve loved them both as characters because they have great potential but again it didn’t really get expanded on much.
After just a few weeks of minimal lessons and interaction (Ceony seemed to do more cooking and chores than learning magic), Emery’s blood-magic wielding ex-wife turns up and steals his heart - no, I don’t mean that romantically, it’s literal. Reaches into his chest and pulls out his heart. But all is well because Ceony magically manages to save his life by someone perfectly folding a 3D origami heart after only seeing textbooks about real human heart and having never had any proper anatomy training. Of course.
She then dashes off in pursuit of the woman and the heart (using a flying contraption made of Paper that I will not go into detail about because that should be enough information to sum up how absurd it is) where she then gets trapped INSIDE the heart.
Now, this was actually quite a fun idea, except that it literally lasted for the rest of the book - essentially about 150 pages of Ceony traipsing round Emery’s heart (no explanation as to how this is possible) witnessing his memories and apparently falling in love with him.
The book is painfully obvious at times. At one point Ceony sees an image in the hope portion of Emery’s heart of him lying down with a faceless woman who he loves. Now who on earth could that woman become? Hm, I do wonder. If only there weren’t so many women in the book who could fit that role...oh wait.
Anyway I’m getting off track. Generally this had a fantastic premise and the idea was full of potential, but the execution fell short and I didn’t enjoy it enough to read the sequels.
Well, honestly, I don't know. All my problems with it seem really petty. Like, for a book set in London it has a lot of Americanisms, even when they're just terminology. "barrette", no one says that here, they'd call it a "hair clip". While I wouldn't expect an American author to use fully British spelling and grammar, it still seemed weird to consistently use American versions of things ("gotten" is my pet peeve) for a book that's supposedly set in London at around the turn of the 20th century. So that bugged me.
Also, while the romance was fairly slow-burn and minor, it annoyed me. It wasn't bad? I'm just not into romance, and didn't see the point in it.
But whatever. It was a pretty good book with a cool magic system. I'm just fussy.
The problem is the book is set in Edwardian England and the author hasn't got a clue about London in the 1900s. The main characters are English but they speak American. English people know that American spelling, grammar and vocab are different from ours but some of the vocab is distracting. Is a buggy a cab, a car or an omnibus? What the heck is a capeline hat? I assume it isn't a head bandage (or maybe it's a turban) but is it a cloche (like an archer's helmet) or is it a floppy hat (like an unworked hat form)? Why not just say hat?
No respectable teenage girl in the 1900s would have lived with an unmarried man of 30 on her own. No apprentice in their first year would have earned £10 a month plus board and lodging, especially not a girl. Lira wouldn't have worn pants, they wouldn't have eaten pasta. London was a city of 5 million people - why talk about the wild edge as though you were describing a remote hamlet in the Highlands in the 1700s?
If you're American you probably won't notice the mistakes. If you're English you'll find yourself shouting before too long.