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222 pages, Paperback
First published September 1, 2014
“One more,” she promised herself. “One more until the end. And even if there’s no door to freedom, at least you know you tried. One more, Ceony.”This was a good book. At the beginning, I was getting solid heavy magical Daddy Long Legs feels...which descended solidly into Dickensian feels, more specifically, A Christmas Carol. Then it became nigh unbearable, because constant flashbacks are not for me, no, sir. Excellent premise. A heroine that I liked. It was just a shame that this turned out to be such a boring book for the latter 2/3s.
Every window in the mansion—and Ceony counted only seven—hid behind black shutters all chained and locked, without the slightest glimmer of candlelight behind them. Dead leaves from a dozen past winters clogged the eaves and wedged themselves under bent and warped shingles—also black—and something drip-drip-dripped nearby, smelling like vinegar and sweat.A most inauspicious beginning to young magician Ceony's apprenticeship. In this alternate reality of England, there exists magic. There exists magicians. Each magician, once graduated, is assigned a speciality.
The tiles composing the path up to the front door, which hung only by its top hinge, were cracked into pieces and overturned, and Ceony didn’t trust a single one of the porch’s gray, weathered boards to hold her weight long enough for her to ring the bell.
“I’ve been shot to hell,” Ceony murmured.
Her heart had broken at those words, and now, standing before the gate of Magician Emery Thane’s lair, she wished it had stopped beating altogether.Paper. The seemingly most useless of all the magical arts. What can you possibly do with paper?
Mg. Aviosky obviously did not realize that the reason Folding had become a dying art was because the skills it enabled were so completely useless.
A skeleton greeted her.If this is the reception, what could the owner possibly be like?
The eyeless head of the skeleton looked up and down almost mechanically, and Ceony, with a hand over her heart, realized all six feet of it was comprised of paper—its head, its spine, its ribs, its legs. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of pieces of paper, all white, rolled and Folded and pinched together to connect in a variety of joints.
“He’s mad,” Ceony said, aloud this time.Well, not really. Magister Thane is quite average. Really.
He seemed quite average, his skin neither light nor dark, his height neither short nor tall, and his build neither thin nor broad. His dark hair fell just below his ears in a sort of kempt-but-unkempt way. He had black sideburns down to his jaw, and his nose had a slight bump to it, just above the middle of the bridge. The only thing extraordinary about him was the brightness of his eyes—green as summer leaves and shining as if someone had hid a light behind his forehead.Magister Thane may not be mad, but he is immensely eccentric, as we readers love for our magicians living in the wilds of England to be. His magic lies in paper, and his entire house is decked out in paper.
His hands stilled, revealing a stout fish between them, puffed out in the middle to form a three-dimensional body. Folds similar to the orange bird’s wings formed its pectoral fins. Mg. Thane picked it up, whispered to it, and released it. The fish soared upward through the air as a real fish would in water, its tail fin paddling back and forth until it hit the ceiling—which Ceony noticed had been covered with long pieces of white paper tied together with a simple string. The white fish used its puckering mouth to bite down on the string and untie its looping knot.And like any good, mysterious magician...he's got something to hide.
She lowered the fortuity box and narrowed her eyes at him. “Who’s Lira?”Life is quiet. There is a lot to learn, and Ceony's days are consumed with books...and cleaning. It is a terribly old house, after all. It is a peaceful existence until the day that woman shows up and does something unthinkable. In a single moment, Ceony's world is overturned...and she has two choices. Run away, or face what she fears, despite her greenness, despite her status as an amateur folder. Does Ceony stand a single chance against one who is so much stronger, one who works the dark art of Excision? She must.
Mg. Thane’s expression did not waver, nor did his stance, but for a moment Ceony could have sworn his eyes flickered dark and back. Only . . . no, they weren’t quite as bright as before. Perhaps it was the late-growing sun outside the library window, but she didn’t think so.
The snowflake still felt frosty, just like real snow. Snow he had made for her. All of it had been for her in one way or another, hadn’t it?Ceony:
In the glow of the candlelight she said, “I have to do it. I have to save him.”
For she knew no one else would.
Ceony had the feeling that, should she get to the buggy with Mg. Aviosky now, she’d run away and never come back. And, though she despised it, Ceony knew she needed to wait for her new responsibility to settle before she could trust herself near any easy exits. She had bound herself to paper indefinitely, and it did her no good to push through a year at Tagis Praff just to throw it all away now.Ceony is a very likeable, approachable character. She is not overtly feminine. She is intelligent...she had to have been, to have graduated from her school so quickly, at the top of her class, but that doesn't mean she is 100% mature. Quite the contrary at times.
“Well, the absence is rude, isn’t it?” Ceony asked, hating how childish the words sounded in her mouth. She cleared her throat and sucked in a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I’m a little on edge.”She has a rather grim sense of humor, but above all else, Ceony has practicality. She didn't get the fate she chose, but she never dwells upon the unfairness of it. She makes the best of her circumstances.
Ceony couldn’t bond paper and still hope to be a Smelter, enchanting jewelry and bespelling bullets as she had often daydreamed during her lessons.She is brave, but never a martyr.
It wasn’t fair, but there was no use in further complaining.
“A heart that’s known love is stronger than one that hasn’t, did you know that?”