Set in Victorian times, The Paper Magician adds magic based on different materials. When Ceony Twill, our plucky heroine, graduates from magic school, she is placed in an apprenticeship with a paper magician, and is not happy about it. Emery Thane is her teacher, and he shows her some interesting things to do with paper, as well as bringing stories to life (which seems a bit of a stretch) and Ceony settles into her new life quickly. She starts cooking and cleaning for Emery, and explains that she was training to be a chef so she doesn’t mind.
There’s dark magic in this world in the form of Excisioners, who use blood magic to turn people’s bodies against them. One of them, who happens to be Emery’s ex wife, bursts in to his house one day and rips out his heart. Despite their being an entire community of trained magicians who can rescue his heart, much like Aurors, our plucky heroine takes off on a paper glider to find his heart and save the day.
Much of the book takes place with Ceony chasing after Lira, Emery’s ex and a user of dark magic. She chases her to the coast, and Lira traps Ceony in Emery’s heart. She goes through all of the chambers of his heart, learning what makes him happy, angry, what he feels like he has failed at. I thought that part of the book was interesting. Ceony manages to survive her encounter with Lira by doing something thought previously impossible in this world of material magic. And of course being a young woman seeing all of her teacher’s deepest emotions, she falls in love with him. All in all, I thought the story was interesting and the action was exciting.