Let’s start off this series review with a quiet moment of contemplation on these wonderful covers! I really like their simplicity and that they sort of look like paper cut outs which fits the type of magic that you will find between the pages!
First up let’s talk about what I liked about the books:
** The magic system was one of the most interesting I have ever come across. I liked how the magicians were bonded to one type of material, paper, glass, metal and other man made materials. Just like Ceony, I was skeptical at first that paper was going to be an interesting magic, but we were both wrong. Emery Thane could do amazing things with paper and it was fun to watch Ceony learn to appreciate it as much as he did.
** The mildly Victorian setting. The book is set in England and the style of dress and modes of transportation suggest the Victorian Era, but there are differences. Women appear to have more rights and freedoms in this world. Which makes Ceony’s character much more interesting.
** Ceony is a very interesting character with lots of sides to her. She can be prickly and bold and many times she makes poor decisions, but she can also be kind, loyal and strong and she is definitely someone you want on your side in a fight. Although there were many times that I did not like Ceony, there were just as many times that I did like her and appreciated her. Although I did not always agree with her decisions, especially in the last book, I could get behind her motives for making them.
“From her pocket she pulled a tiny snowflake, the one she had stowed there after her first day as a Folder. She rubbed her thumb over its tiny, delicate cuts, grateful she hadn’t yet washed this particular skirt. The snowflake still felt frosty, just like real snow. Snow he had made for her. All of it had been for her in one way or another, hadn’t it?
In the glow of the candlelight she said, “I have to do it. I have to save him.”
For she knew no one else would.” — Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician.
** Emery Thane, is a wonderful character too. He is a bit eccentric and at times can appear quite mad, but endearingly so. Some of the things he is able to create with paper are amazing as well, such as his skeleton butler and his amazing paper garden. I would love to see that garden and the spooky illusions he makes to hide his house. He is also incredibly brave, going after bad magicians without much more than paper spells to defeat them.
** The stories of each of the books are very well done. They are light hearted even when they are dark, if that makes sense. The pacing can be a bit slow and like I said Ceony doesn’t always make the best decisions but you will keep going and want to reach the end. I really thought the first book was quite original as Ceony has to race through Emory’s heart, literally, to save him.
“I can wait two years, she thought, turning the rose in her hand. I can wait two years for him, longer if need be. If he would ever love me, I’d wait my entire life.”
― Charlie N. Holmberg, The Glass Magician
** The romance is nicely done. There is an age gap between Ceony and Emory, but considering the time period that this is set in that wasn’t all that uncommon. Some people might find that creepy but I was okay with it. The romance was slow, and they tried to hide their feelings until Ceony was done with her apprenticeship, although others who knew them always seemed to catch on.
** The bad guys in all of the books were quite awful, using blood as their magic base, which of course meant that they had to kill people. It was an interesting system though and they could do some interesting things with their magic, but still yuck to that.
“It’s like you have a checklist for dangerous criminals tucked into your pocket, and you won’t be satisfied until you’ve had a personal encounter with each.”
― Charlie N. Holmberg, The Master Magician
I tried to think of some negatives and really the only one I could think of also happens to be a like? I do remember being confused by the setting as I was reading. Even though it appears to be set in Victorian times, there are things that suggest it really isn’t. But then you have to consider that this is Historical Fantasy, so we don’t have to be time period perfect. So once I got over that, I found myself enjoying the books much more. If you want a historical romance that is accurate in its setting, these are not the books you want.
If you like sweet historical fantasies with a light romance, some action, and a very interesting magical system then I suggest you give this series a try. There is one more book called the Plastic Magician that I haven’t read yet, it is a stand alone set in this world, but I plan to read it soon.