If you read The Paper Magician, get ready to feel wrath and frustration. Ceony Twill is quite possibly the most irritating heroine I’ve read in a long time and I really want to strangle her. I’ll probably settle for getting this book away from me as soon as I can.
Ceony is a know-it all, she’s selfish, she’s immature, and she refuses to learn from her mistakes. True she’s had some problems in her life, but as her flashbacks show, a lot of them are her own fault. She acknowledges this but refuses to admit fault. She also manages to fall in love with her mentor after knowing him all of 2 days. I don’t need to read the other books in the series to know how this is going to end. Honestly, I know I won’t be reading them because I’m pretty sure I would end up throwing a book across the room out of frustration and annoyance at the main character. No thanks.
Ceony finishes at the top of her class in magic school, but she’s surprised when she is told she won’t get to choose her element. In this world, if you study magic, at the end of your schooling, you are bound to a specific element which becomes your only one. This is an interesting premise. Ceony want the glamour of metal, but is assigned to paper. Her mentor is Emery Thane, who seems like your standard scatter- brained professor type. A few days into her training, a woman named Lira breaks into Thane’s house and literally steals the heart out of his chest. Ceony make him a paper one, and then decides to chase down Lira, which ends up happening literally inside Thane’s still living heart. Cue all kinds of emotional backstory.
Lira is a practitioner of dark magic using human flesh, and she used to be married to Thane. Ceony must defeat her, and save her beloved Emery. Ceony seems to think she knows what’s best for everyone, when she has no idea what’s going on. While trying to save her teacher might be admirable, given how sanctimonious she is, I really don’t care. I kind of liked Thane, and he could be an interesting character. But since he and Ceony have to save each other, it’s inevitable that he will eventually fall for her, which makes him a standard Austen or Regency hero, except we don’t get to see him as his conscious self for long enough to like him or not. He’s smart, has some backstory, and could be a good teacher figure, but adding the romance ruins it, since that takes away any possibility of seeing Thane as himself as opposed to a stereotypical romantic hero.
I like Jane Austen most of the time, but this story lacks the characterization and the actual smartness and wit to even stand as a reasonable re-telling. I’d rather find out more about how Lira turned into who she is, and her story with Thane. Even though I don’t usually go for tragic drama, I would prefer that to self-righteous Ceony who has little to be righteous about.
If I were able to not rant on the subject, I could do this review in about 5 words: cool premise ruined by heroine.