The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Spoilers Obvs.

The Paper Magician is a story set in early 20th century London about nineteen-year old Ceony Twill who was forced into a profession she doesn’t want.

We’re already off to a not so great start, Holmberg doesn’t seem to know a whole bunch about the era and location she’s writing about. The dialogue just didn’t really match the setting, which is one of my biggest pet peeves. Nor did the food Ceony prepared seem very English, which come one man. That’s an easy one.

If I’m being honest, everyone spoke like they were born and raised in modern America, and I was honestly surprised I made it through the entire book without anyone ordering Pizza Hut from their iPhone.

So anyway, Ceony fucking finished magic school, in one year, top of her class and they still made her pick a medium she doesn’t want to work with.

The way it works is, once you finish magic school you bind yourself to a man-made material and you can only work with that material for the rest of your life. Ceony wanted to work with glass. But, because she’s so smart and hardworking, she get’s saddled with paper.

Moral of the story = hard work doesn’t pay off.

I found it interesting that in the universe Holmberg created magicians are real but they can only work with man-made materials. Whereas, people in the real world who practice magic work with natural materials. I’m made to wonder if the deliberate distinction was intentional.


The book was weird. Like really weird. Everyone came across as embarrassingly prudish, Ceony concealed carries everywhere she goes, she takes a little too much delight in cooking and cleaning, I don’t remember anyone actually drinking alcohol.

So I looked more into the books thinking maybe there was some insight later in the books that would explain all this.

I didn’t find anything about the books, but I did find the author was born and raised in Utah and went to BYU. After that the book made too much sense.

Stay weird Utah.

Back to the story:

She goes to apprentice under paper magician, Emery Thane, who is probably twenty years older than her.

Yes, that’s a love story you smell. Teen girl falling for a man old enough to be her dad (or in Stephenie Meyer’s case her great-great granddad) seems to be a common kink for BYU alumni.

Within like two hours of being there, Ceony snoops around Thane’s office and finds out that he paid for her tuition, room and board, and her books while she was at magic school and she’s like

“he’s so nice, he didn’t expect anything in return!”

And I was like

“WTF are you talking about? Are you his apprentice or not? What is going on in here on this day?”

At one point in their studies they use an elementary school, paper fortune-telling box.

Like, I….

So anyway, Ceony sets about trying to win Thane’s affection by cleaning and cooking for him and having no personality whatsoever when suddenly,

Oh shit, a people magician!

Home girl just walked up in the place, ripped the man’s actual fucking beating heart straight out his chest and click-clacked on out.

My reaction:

YAAAAASSSSSSS literally and figuratively slay ma-ma!

Turns out that humans are considered a “man-made material”. Lol.

I think that’s what I would want to be. Come on, that’s badass. Medical sorcery. You can use already dead people; murder doesn’t need to be a part of this. We’re not even halfway through the book and someone just struck a fatal blow. Like we’re just getting right into this. From a character we’ve never heard of no less.

Ok, Ceony’s like

“But I want him to be my daddy, so like I gotta save him”

I shit you not, hops on a paper airplane and glides to the fuckin’ rescue.

The woman who took Emery’s heart ends up being his ex and she seems to be pretty jelly of Ceony, which I think reduces her villainy to a tired trope and I kind of stopped caring.

I’m so freakin’ over grown ass adults fighting over people.

Holmberg also makes Lira, the ex, out to be bad just ‘cause. Like there’s no justification or anything, which reduces her villainy AGAIN.

The story is being told through Ceony’s perspective so it reads like Ceony wants Emery’s ex to be the worst because she’s jealous.

Ok and real talk, not related

What’s the obsession with green eyes? (Emery has bright green eyes). No shade or anything I just don’t get why every fantasy romance or fanfic gotta have a hottie tottie with a naughty body sporting green eyes? Why no love for our brown/blue/grey/hazel eyed brothers?

Lastly, Holmberg’s obsession with lips made me wanna puke.

What do the haters say:

Nothing, I seem to be the only one who finished the book.

Final Grade: C

The adventure was unique and an interesting concept, so props for that but the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist was petty and juvenile and frankly kind of ruined the rest of the book.

Unless you are looking for one of two things:

  1. A mindless, predictable romance to read on the beach or something.


  1. A cringy, stereotype laden read peppered with obsurdities.

This book is just meh. I heard Disney bought the film rights to the entire series, I might watch it.

Emphasis on “might”.

Later Lovelies,



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