Wednesday, May 9, 2018

ARC Review: The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Plastic Magician
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Series: A Paper Magician Novel (Book 4)
Publication: 47North (May 15, 2018)

Description: 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…

My Thoughts: Alvie Brechenmacher is a young woman from Ohio who has been accepted in the new magical discipline of Polymaking. She travels to England to meet her new master Marion Praff who is one of the most famous of the polymakers.

Traveling through mirrors, on ferries, and on the train is makes a long hard day that isn't helped when a "helpful" stranger who introduces himself as Magician Ezzell, also a polymaker, encourages her to get off at the wrong train stop. However, she is helped by a handsome young magician's apprentice named Bennett Cooper who guides her to her correct stop.

When she arrives at her master's palatial home, she is warmly welcomed and quickly immerses herself in this new magical field. Alvie is very bright and curious but she lacks self-confidence and underestimates her own assets. She wears very thick glasses because she is incredibly near-sighted which she feels makes her unattractive.

When she volunteers at a local hospital, she meets a young woman named Ethel Cooper who has lost part of her left arm in an industrial accident. She also meets Ethel's younger brother Bennett who is the same young man who rescued her earlier. Bennett and Alvie begin a romantic relationship that is both sweet and awkward given that both of them are inexperienced and shy. Meeting Ethel gives Alvie the idea that polymaking could be used to create prosthetics.

Alvie's master has been in a bit of a magical slump since his one major invention and quickly grabs onto Alvie's idea as a terrific new use for polymaking and a terrific new idea for the upcoming Discovery Convention where all sorts of magicians show off their latest discoveries. However, polymakers have been recently plagued with break-ins. Someone is eager to take a shortcut to fame by stealing other inventor's ideas.

Between her budding courtship and her work on developing the new spells needed to make magical prosthetics, Alvie is happily busy but danger is lurking for her and her mentor.

This was a fun story which blends history with magic. I liked Alvie's enthusiasm for her career choice. I also liked the magical world which had traveling by mirrors and the technological inventions that actually happened in the early 1900s. Alvie's father got rich helping Edison invent the lightbulb and Alvie has a fascination with the new internal combustion engines in the new automobiles that are becoming more common. Alvie was a great character who was coming of age and exploring her talents. 

Favorite Quote:
Alvie had a number of talents. She could factor large numbers in her head, for one, and she could write in shorthand with incredible speed if she didn't heed her penmanship. She knew almost all the rudimentary spells for Polymaking, and she was fairly certain she could disassemble and reassemble the engine of a Mercedes-Benz in six hours and four minutes without having to consult a manual.

She was also, apparently, very good at screaming.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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