Hello humans! I’ve reviewed a Charlie N. Holmberg book before (read my review of The Fifth Doll here) but it was The Paper Magician series, read back when I was quite ill in 2015, that first enamoured me to this author. The trilogy is simple yet enchanting, the ultimate comfort food (except not food- books). When I discovered that there was to be a spinoff standalone I couldn’t wait to read it. I’m hugely grateful to whoever at 47North heard me begging and approved my NetGalley request. I can’t help but love these books so I’m delighted to share my thoughts.
Alvie Brechenmacher has arrived in London to begin her training in Polymaking—the magical discipline of bespelling plastic. Polymaking is the newest form of magic, and in a field where there is so much left to learn, every Polymaker dreams of making the next big discovery.
Even though she is only an apprentice, Alvie is an inventor at heart, and she is determined to make as many discoveries—in as short a time frame—as she can. Luckily for her, she’s studying under the world-renowned magician Marion Praff, who is just as dedicated as Alvie is.
Alvie’s enthusiasm reinvigorates her mentor’s work, and together they create a device that could forever change Polymaking—and the world. But when a rival learns of their plans, he conspires to steal their invention and take the credit for it himself.
To thwart him, Alvie will need to think one step ahead. For in the high-stakes world of magical discovery, not everyone plays fair…
This book could easily be read as a standalone if you’re more interested in reading this than The Paper Magician or you want to read them in a different order. However, for fans of the series, there are enough familiar faces and little nuances and references that make you smile. You could argue that the worldbuilding and the explanation of the magic system is somewhat less than in the trilogy, but I think that this book doesn’t necessarily require that level of detail, there is enough to get you started in this world and then you learn as you go along.
Alvie is a delightful protagonist. I had worried that she would be a cringe-worthy bumbling nerd character, a stereotype which I never appreciate. However, as the book continues it becomes apparent that Alvie is far more complex of a character than one might expect. She does have all the hallmarks of the clumsy awkward girl character but she is also passionate and owns her own ‘shortcomings’ (in inverted commas because it’s far more what society sees as a shortcoming than Alvie herself).
This book is well balanced between the main plot and the romance, I’d say it is roughly 50/50. I went into this knowing that there would be a heavy romance element, it’s the nature of these books, what I wasn’t expecting was how adorable the romance would be, and how much the rest of the book would capture my imagination. I thought that polymaking would lack the beauty and romanticism that came with the exploration of folding in the earlier trilogy, but the passion Alvie has for the subject as well as the way polymaking is shown in the book makes for great reading. It’s a magic much more akin to science than folding seemed to be, which also helps to make this book not feel like a rewrite of The Paper Magician.
Should you read this? If you are looking for a happy, light-hearted, warm and cosy read, perhaps if you have a long flight or if you are going on holiday, this book is worth the time. And if you liked The Paper Magician I am almost certain you will enjoy this book!
My rating: 5/5 stars
The Plastic Magician releases on May 15 so be sure to pre-order if you want to read it ASAP.
I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Did you enjoy The Paper Magician and will you be reading this book? Let me know in the comments below!