Tied with a Bow, or my review of Master Magician

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Master Magician (the Paper Magician trilogy #3) 

by Charlie N. Holmberg

Publisher: 47North

Publication Date: June 2nd, 2015

Format Read: Kindle E-Book



Throughout her studies, Ceony Twill has harbored a secret, one she’s kept from even her mentor, Emery Thane. She’s discovered how to practice forms of magic other than her own — an ability long thought impossible.

While all seems set for Ceony to complete her apprenticeship and pass her upcoming final magician’s exam, life quickly becomes complicated. To avoid favoritism, Emery sends her to another paper magician for testing, a Folder who despises Emery and cares even less for his apprentice. To make matters worse, a murderous criminal from Ceony’s past escapes imprisonment. Now she must track the power-hungry convict across England before he can take his revenge. With her life and loved ones hanging in the balance, Ceony must face a criminal who wields the one magic that she does not, and it may prove more powerful than all her skills combined.


4 star rating


This being the end of the story of apprentice magician Ceony Twill and her teacher Emory Thane, I’m still trying to decide how I feel. Although the story was short, it was in every other regard actually a perfect ending to the series. It tied up every single loose end to the series in a neat, happy way.

Timewise, Master Magician jumps a bit into the future. Whereas the first two books take place in the first six months of Ceony’s apprenticeship, this one takes us to the end of her two years, right before she takes the exam to become a full-fledged Folder (a magician working with paper). But it contains all of the joyfulness of the first two, nevertheless.

Again, I have to congratulate Charlie Holmberg on the world she creates. We get bits and pieces of information about a variety of magic, from Smelting (metalworking) to rubber to fire. I love how cleverly she incorporates the spells into everyday life, and the utter wonderness of paper magic. Paper cranes that send notes back and forth? an illusion from doodles? plus, as readers of this esteemed blog probably know by now, I’m a total sucker for anything Victorian/Edwardian, which is cleverly done here via little touches.

I also have to comment on the romance. We got the heady fall into love in the first book, and the dramatic does-he-love-me angst in the second, but what I love is that this book sets aside all relationship drama. After all, Ceony and Emory have had two years together. Although still keeping it chaste (with a commendable awareness of the awkwardness of a student-teacher love story), they are still absolutely adorable. Kisses, love notes, etc. I am also a total fan of the no-drama romance.

I also like the little glimpses we get of Ceony’s family here, although I wish we could get more–a little bit more explanation, for example, of what exactly has Zina up in arms. Still, it’s nice to have proof that the main character does actually have a family, and that it is a peaceful, happy one.

Really, this book would have absolutely no drama at all if it weren’t for Ceony’s magical ability to IMMEDIATELY jump to conclusions. *sigh* Her rashness was somewhat endearing in the first one, and at least it had a useful purpose, but at this point it’s just a bit like ‘REALLY, hun? you didn’t learn from the FIRST FIFTEEN TIMES that chasing after evil blood magicians on your own is a BAD IDEA? Especially when they (probably) have no reason to find you and you GO AND FIND THEM ANYWAYS?’ I unashamedly skipped a chapter, because it was like ‘ho, hum, Ceony’s doing something rash again, and she’s going to get into some minor trouble with those Excisioner people again’.

I also very much don’t understand why she’s unable to keep her mouth shut around the guy who’s giving her the biggest exam of her career, the one that will literally make or break her future. YES, he’s badmouthing your boyfriend, and generally being a twat, but you also know that quite a lot of that animosity is Emory’s fault. Plus, you know, some vague attempts to cause drama basically entirely caused by that animosity.

I only forgive the characters their extremely poor decision-making because it all works out in the end–so neatly, really, that you can probably tie a nice bow around it and go ‘ta-da!’. I mean, the ending scene is basically absolutely everything you would wish for in a very sweet magical romance. And when Ceony and Emory, rather than make drama, look at each other and acknowledge they’re never not going to get into trouble, you can sigh contentedly and know that they’re going to be a couple that lasts. Also the badass lets-save-each-other thing.

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.

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