Ceony, having just graduated Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, is assigned an apprenticeship in Folding, paper magic, despite her hopes of becoming a Smelter, a metal magician. Bonded to paper forever, she begins learning under the kind, yet strange Magician Emery Thane. Just as she’s beginning to embrace the marvels of paper magic, an Excisioner, a practitioner of forbidden flesh magic, bursts into the cottage and rips Thane’s beating heart out of his chest. To save her teachers life, she must confront the evil magician and withstand a journey through Thane’s still beating heart.
I loved the premise. The idea of specific material magic, and the alternate reality early 1900’s English setting were enjoyable and well explained. I didn’t feel bogged down by exposition or like I was missing important details.
Ceony was less than likable at the beginning. She was petulant and nosy, but over time she warmed to her circumstance, and I warmed to her. She is headstrong and a bit impulsive, but she’s also smart and resourceful. It was nice to watch her grow throughout the novel. I loved Magician Thane from the beginning. He’s kind and quirky, a bit eccentric and exceptionally calm under fire. He was nice to Ceony when she didn’t deserve it, and tried to show her the marvels of Folding.
I had an issue with the pacing. Sometimes it trundled along with little action and lengthy descriptions, and sometimes it barreled forward, skidding through the action almost too fast.
Overall, the book was well-written and entertaining. Holmberg managed an old-world feel without making the advanced magic seem out of place. The magic is entertaining and fun to read about.
4 out of 5. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but I enjoyed the characters and the world enough to want to continue.