Paper Mage by Leah R. Cutter [2.5/5]
In ancient China, Xiao Yen, a young woman who has been trained as a paper mage, leaves her village and family to escort two foreigners on a journey across the Middle Kingdom. It comes as no surprise that she encounters many obstacles during the trip, or that she struggles to overcome them.
I’ll be up front and admit that I didn’t actually finish this book. I found that I was bored by it, and I had other, more interesting, books waiting to be read. The author had obviously done extensive research into Tang Dynasty China, but the setting was really the only thing that the novel had going for it. The prose was fine, but nowhere near the level of, say, Jessica Amanda Salmonson (whose Ou Lu Khen and the Beautiful Madwoman was the last book I read that used the same sort of setting), and the technique of cutting back and forth between Xiao Yen’s journey and her training as a child kept killing the narrative tension. The paper magic seemed like it should be interesting, but somehow wasn’t, and I didn’t particularly like the main character, which was a definite problem. Overall, it’s not a terrible book, but it’s not anything I’d recommend to anyone either.