The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Well, like many books, this one started out well. My first thoughts within the first couple of chapters were that it was hitting the Daddy Long-Legs-meets-Jane-Eyre genre fairly hard. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it was just very obvious. Just as that bit was nearly played out, EXPLOSIONS!
And then the majority of the book was spent traveling through Magician Thane's literal and metaphorical heart(s). At the same time. Don't ask me how that's possible because I don't know. Once Ceony survived that, the ending was predictable as the above mentioned books would have it, if a little "twee" (and less adult) in its presentation.
My issues with this book can be listed as follows:
No subtlety: in addition to the obvious ploys listed above, there was little subtlety anywhere to be found. Our villainess Lira had blood-red lips, dark eyes, a large bosom, and if that wasn't enough, she actually threw blood from her dripping fingertips. Nothing delicate or subtle there.
Time period anachronisms: if you're going to insist that the book is set in late eighteenth-early twentietch century London, then you best be sure to not use contemporary words such as "make-up," "barrettes," "catering," and the like. How could a man slip his "ungloved hand" up Ceony's skirt if she was standing and he was seated? The skirt would have been down to her ankles, not to mention the layers of petticoats and undergarments. A lady, even an evil lady like Lira, never would have worn pants. A schoolgirl like Ceony would have been shocked to seem them. And they wouldn't have been called "pants" (see below).
Lack of Britishisms: I haven't looked up if Holmberg is British, but for a book set in England, it was nearly devoid of Englishness, including but not limited to: tea (serving and making of), saying "trousers" instead of "pants," etc.
It's entirely fine to have an English-like universe set it an unnamed time where one can mix and match their verbiage as they see fit. However, by giving concrete times and places, a writer is best to stick within those conventions. If you don't know the conventions, do the research. If you don't want to do the research, don't give concrete details to which your story is tied.
To quote the book, "I like the dog."
While Book #2 promises to continue Ceony and Thane's story, I doubt I'll be reading it.
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