I think I made a mistake, picking this one up. I was hoping for more worldbuilding, but mostly what I got was these wrong characters in the wrong setting with the wrong plot. I feel like screaming “You had such PROMISE!” the same way Obi-Wan screamed, “You were the Chosen One!” on Mustafar.
I don’t want to hate our main character, Ceony, but I think I’m three-quarters of the way there. She just needs to be carefully cut out and pasted into a more suitable book, like a cozy mystery where she gets to be a mommyblogger who solves crime on the side. Because I’m THISCLOSE to kidnapping Charlie N Holmberg and making her watch Upstairs, Downstairs while duct-taped to a chair.
We did get some more worldbuilding, but it took the 60-70% of the book to build up enough steam to get there. Honestly, the real plot of these books is the TIRESOME will-they-won’t-they between Ceony and her mentor Magician Thane, and the cool stuff with the magic is more of a subplot. And that is disappointing.
It does have some natural conflict because of course Magician Aviosky, Ceony’s supervisor, is NOT OKAY with the budding romance, and it’s perfectly legit, what with the power differential between student and teacher and all, but I wonder why the hell did you not hire a chaperone for Ceony. That was a pretty normal-ass thing to do for the times.
Not that it would exactly prevent such a romance, but then she’d be less antsy about having Ceony alone with a man. Just an easily-solved conflict like that being used as a plot convenience really bugs me.
But anyway SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS, etc.
The actually interesting plot is about the cohorts of Lira, the villain of the last book, trying to track Ceony down to discover how she defeated her. We learn more about Gaffing, which is glass magic, and I’m having another Mustafar moment because that stuff is actually interesting, what with spying and magical teleportation through mirrors and stuff.
And we discover that magicians CAN break their one-true-only bond with their material to switch with another. And while Ceony chooses to stay with paper magic, she never once thinks about Smelting, which supposedly caused her so much angst in the first book.
This could have made it SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING because turning into a Smelter would solve all the red-tape-type conflict about having a relationship with Thane. He wouldn’t be her teacher, and they could date and hold hands and suck face without any problems. But that would cause NEW conflict because he’s taught her to love Folding for itself, which is only BETTER, plot-wise. We could have some REAL STAKES, but she opts out of it entirely.