cover image The Plastic Magician

The Plastic Magician

Charlie N. Holmberg. 47North, $14.95 trade paper (261p) ISBN 978-1-5420-4791-3

Holmberg returns to the alternate 1905 of her Paper Magician trilogy in a tepid fantasy with elements of mystery and romance that stars a new heroine, apprentice plastic magician Alvie Brechenmacher. American Alvie is delighted to be apprenticed in London to Marion Praff, a leading Polymaker, or plastic magician. On her arrival in England, she is directed to the wrong train stop by Roscoe Ezzell, a Polymaker and rival of Magician Praff, but she is rescued by the handsome young Bennet Cooper. While volunteering at a local hospital, Alvie meets Ethel, an amputee, whose condition inspires Alvie to suggest to Praff that they work on a prosthetic hand for Ethel as their exhibit for the upcoming Discovery Convention. The light romance that develops between Alvie and Bennet, who happens to be Ethel’s brother, and the work on the prosthetic take up most of the pages, with hints at unscrupulous behavior by Ezzell only turning into something like excitement very late in the story. There are some intriguing ideas here, but the characters are rather two-dimensional and the story moves quite slowly. Agent: Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary. (May)