If you haven't yet read the first and second installments in this series, and you think that you might be interested in reading, then you should stop reading right here, because I am about to ruin everything for you. All of the surprises will be gone. So, if you want to find out why I love this series so much, click here to read my review of the first book and then, once you've read all of them, come back and find this review.
If you don't know whether or not you might want to read The Master Magician, then let me give you a short list of books that it reminds me of: Jane Eyre + Pride & Prejudice + Harry Potter, with its own twist and a wonderfully creative world that is something along the lines of magical realism (where magic is simply accepted as a part of day-to-day life). And if you have read the first two books but haven't read this one yet (it was published on June 2, for those who didn't have it pre-ordered), then go read it now (and come back later)!
The Master Magician is the third installment in the Paper Magician trilogy by Charlie N. Holmberg. I am rarely the type of person who gets hyped up about a series to this level-- really, only Harry Potter has made the cut in the past. So after I stumbled upon the first book in the series by accident on my Kindle, I was surprised to find myself pre-ordering the next two in the trilogy and eagerly awaiting their release dates. I love this story because I love its main character and the way that she fits (or doesn't fit) into her community.
Ceony Twill is an exceptionally brilliant young woman who takes it upon herself to excel through secondary school and win a scholarship to be a magician's apprentice. In Ceony's world (which is set in a Victorian-esque era), magicians are a part of everyday life. Rather than all being lumped together, however, they belong to a category of magical occupations that focus on the manipulation of one material. There are smelters working with metal, gaffers working with glass, excisioners (who are evil unless they're certified to be a doctor) who work with human flesh, etc. Ceony is forced into an apprenticeship of folding, which is the manipulation of paper. She's disappointed at first, but in the first two installments she comes to find that the life of a folder doesn't have to be dull. At the end of the second book, Ceony and Emery's relationship finally became what it was meant to be, and at the beginning of the third book, they've settled into a comfortable routine of light affection while they await Ceony's magician test, after which Emery will no longer be her mentor and they will be free to make their relationship public (or more public than it already is, at least).
The problem is that Saraj Prendi is back-- and this is where I ran into my first problem with the book. Saraj is just kind of a blah character overall, and I wish that there had been more development to his character in this book. Mostly he just pops out of hiding when it's convenient so that he can give Ceony a heart attack and then go back into the shadows while she chases after him. Ceony is just as fearless as ever, and my favorite part about this book was how she defied social norms by becoming a master of all the magic materials. Her determinedness is something that I really admire, and I love that she can be so incredibly talented and intelligent without needing to be praised by others. She's perfectly happy to keep her brilliance to herself. Let's not forget Emery either, whose quirks are endearing and who has a fiercely protective side when it comes to Ceony, despite the fact that he has zero control in their relationship (which I found funny and refreshing for this time period).
I could go on and on about different parts of the story, but the gist of it is that I really enjoy this series and would recommend it to so many readers. There were only two issues that I had with this last book: the matter of finding and killing Saraj (it just didn't feel as dangerous as the first two books), and the ending. I know, I know...the ending was kind of perfect in its own way, but I wanted more. In fact, I want another book (or four) in this series. So I found myself wrinkling my nose at the last sentence because I just didn't want it to end, and I felt like Holmberg shut the door without letting me see the best part. I'll still be keeping this series close at hand for re-reading this year, because despite its flaws, it's become one of my all-time favorites.
Bottom Line Rating: 5/5
- Title: The Master Magician
- Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
- Publisher: 47North, June 2015
- Price: $10 on Amazon
- ASIN: BOOP1N03G8
- Format: E-book
- Source: Amazon Kindle Store