tsundoku: The Paper Magician Book Review

The Paper Magician is, at first glance, a quirky mix of magic and romance.

An overachieving student on a scholarship from a mysterious donor, with parents struggling to make ends meet, winds up as an apprentice to an eccentric magician, suddenly finds herself in an unfamiliar environment, and through constant companionship falls helplessly in love with the aforementioned eccentric magician.


Charlie Holmberg builds her world at length, albeit with a lack of a certain  atmosphere. She creates a fascination for the art of paper magic, as we learn its intricacies along with her protagonist, Ceony Twill. Warm summer afternoons soon turn into dark shadows as Ceony’s teacher- Magician Emery Thane- leaves his peaceful country cottage on the arrival of a telegram. Holmberg leaves very little to the reader’s imagination as events quickly go out of hand, with the entry of the antagonist. The immediate events that occur are somewhat improbable and should’ve been written differently.

The crux of the story, however, is Holmberg’s genius. Her story has a definite Charles Dickens air about it, perhaps drawing inspiration from the Victorian times her story is set in. I felt a distinct imprint of ‘A Christmas Carol’ on her story. The story progresses at a moderate pace, with sporadic bursts of action. (Maybe a few more action sequences would’ve been better so as to establish a strong character). Overall, the story is the author’s clever rendition of Charles Dickens’ story.

I thoroughly enjoyed the creativity in Holmberg’s story, as it revealed the characters’ pasts, which were masterfully interconnected without either’s knowledge. Holmberg’s style of writing gives characters distinct personalities, but isn’t immediately enticing and takes some getting used to, to be properly appreciated.

The plot culminates in a classic showdown, pitting the antagonist and Ceony against each other. Ceony manages to gain the upper hand, predictably so. The story finally leaves the familiar taste of loose ends in the reader’s mind, and a scent of further romance between Ceony and the magician.

All in all, I would dub it a good read. It has a certain lazy afternoon read vibe to it, owing to its simple prose, easy flowing narrative, and short length (takes a maximum of 3 hours).

Happy reading. 🙂



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