The Paper Magician is about magic, mystery and a large dose of romance. Ceony Twill has just graduated from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined and is about to start her apprenticeship as a Paper Magician. She’s not very happy about this – she’s always wanted to work with metal, not paper. But as she learns more about Folding, she realises it’s not as bad as she originally thought. While she’s coming to this conclusion though, there’s the small matter of the Excisioner (flesh magician) trying to kill her master.
I really enjoyed this book. I liked how magic was portrayed – that spells are cast via a physical medium (paper, metal, plastic, glass, etc) and once you have bonded to a medium, that is the only way you can ever work magic. Getting to know Ceony was a lot harder than getting to know her master, Emery Thane – we don’t spend a large portion of the book wandering through her heart the way we do his – but for the most part, I enjoyed Ceony. There’s a light, almost fairy tale quality to the story and the writing that made it seem very fresh and a bit innocent.
What I didn’t like though, was the completely avoidable romantic side-effect from wandering through Thane’s heart. One minute, Ceony is mourning the loss of the apprenticeship she was expecting, and the next, she’s in love. From that point on, there’s a bit too much time spent existing only for Thane than I’m comfortable with. I would have liked to see more information provided about the magical world – rules, regulations, society. The book sticks to the main plot so carefully that the world it exists in is barely fleshed out, relying on the reader’s knowledge of Victorian England to provide context – and even then, there are enough items mentioned (plastic, emphasis on wearing makeup, some of the foods) that just don’t fit with that era.
This book is definitely worth a read, I’m just hoping that the rest of the series fleshes out things a bit more, and that it works much better as a series than as individual books.