Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician
Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.
Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.
An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man. (Summary from Amazon.com.)
This was a pleasant read on the younger end of the YA spectrum, which is to say that I enjoyed it in the moment, but it wasn’t particularly complex or compelling. I think I was expecting more of a steampunk adventure, whereas the book is actually rather placid. Yes, there’s a dark sorceress who tears Emery Thane’s heart out of his chest, and Ceony has to stop her. But she basically fulfills this mission by entering Emery’s heart and thus becoming privy to his memories and emotions. I actually liked this conceptualization of the heart, especially as Ceony accesses both the good and evil parts of Emery’s psyche. But the character development is a bit simplistic, and the action doesn’t really pick up until the end. All in all, a decent read, but I’m on the fence about whether I want to continue with the series.