Synopsis for The Paper Magician:
Ceony Twill is assigned to Magician Emery Thane as an apprentice Folder (paper magic) when her heart lies in Smelting (metal magic). Though she is reluctant to enter the trade, she soon finds that the world of paper is enchanting with the help of Magician Thane. However, she also learns that there is an unspeakable form of magic (flesh magic) that one can practice, and it wriggles its way into their lives – an Excisioner interrupts Ceony’s apprenticeship with Magician Thane and rips his heart out. It’s up to Ceony to save him.
Synopsis for The Glass Magician: After the debacle that was the last book, Ceony is once again training to be a Folder, though much more happily. However, their lives are once again interrupted as a consequence of Ceony’s actions in the first book. An Excisioner’s accomplice is hunting Ceony for answers, and he will stop at no cost to get them.
Synopsis for The Master Magician: Ceony is in her final weeks of her two-year apprenticeship and is preparing to take her test to earn the title of Magician. Although this situation is stressful, it becomes more so as a deadly Excisioner escapes and his target is her. It’s up to Ceony to track him and defeat him, all while trying to revise for her final exam!
Okay, so first off, I have to say that I really enjoyed this series. It was lovely. I loved the concept of magicians tied to man-made materials, and they went to an academy and had to apprentice to learn their craft. I loved how it was interwoven with late Victorian London. I loved learning the spells right alongside Ceony, who was rather put out that she was to become a Folder rather than a Smelter.
I loved it some much that I wished the book was longer. Spending 200 pages per book building this world as well as developing conflict and resolution as well as planting the seeds of a romance was quite a feat in that many pages. It flew, and some things didn’t feel quite as well paced as they could have been. I was able to make it through half the book on a train journey, and I was already at the climax of the novel. The characters and the storyline would have benefited from at least an additional 100 pages per book.
One of the most (mildly) infuriating things for me was the blatant use of Americanisms – not just in speech, but in action. One part that stuck out like a sore thumb to me was when Ceony fixed biscuits and gravy for breakfast! My husband had no clue what biscuits and gravy were until we were visiting my family in the States. And then there are other small things – listing off Wales and being “abroad”, using “studying” rather than “revising”, “Mom” and not “Mum” – although entertaining, this book would have benefitted from a little more research before being published. However, I’m unsure if these were mistakes or if they were deliberate for American audiences.
Although the books contain romance, it’s not the primary focus of the story. There are a few parts that will make you smile and sigh, however, I feel that it is leapt into too quickly. We are not allowed a build-up – Ceony simply decides that she likes the character she does. It comes on too suddenly for me – I like slow builds. I like the character to develop a reason for liking the person they do rather than seemingly deciding on a whim. Yes, they do nice things for her, but… Hm. It just didn’t quite fit for me. However, the romance is clean (there are a few kisses exchanged).
In contrast with the clean romance, we have quite a bit of description when it comes to violence! I was rather surprised. It’s not a bad thing, but I was quite surprised by how graphically it is described in places. It was well done, though, and the battle scenes are excellent. It is easy to picture exactly what each character is doing as you are reading, and there is no question of how, who, what, where, etc.
Regardless of these little criticisms, the books are a joy to read. They are whimsical, they are fun, and they are gripping at points. As I stated, I swept through them quickly, they were entertaining, and they kept my mind occupied on the train. I enjoyed them so much that I wished there were more of them to read!
Definitely pick up if you enjoy books dealing with Victorian London or magic!
Visit the author’s website for some extra goodies regarding the series.