Sunday, September 22, 2013

{Review} The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

ISBN #: 978-0670023660
Page Count: 563
Copyright: August 1, 2013
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books; First Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from dustjacket flap)

Nora Fischer's dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman. During a miserable weekend at a friend's wedding, Nora gets lost and somehow walks through a portal into a different world, with only her copy of Pride and Prejudice in her back pocket. There, she meets glamorous, charming Ilissa, who introduces her to a new world of decadence and riches. Nora herself feels different: more attractive; more popular. Soon, her romance with the gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It's almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora's new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally - and a reluctant one at that - is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel's student - and learning real magic herself - to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her "real life" against the dangerous power of love and magic.

Mandy's Review:

Nora lives in present-day and, like many of us, does not believe in magic. Even after she walks into another world and is enchanted by the Faitoren Queen. Nora's time spent with the Faitoren is magical and transforms her in ways she never thought possible. She becomes compliant and unthinking, but also beautiful and wanted. When the Queen's son, Raclin, chooses to spend time with her and court her, Nora is surprised and overwhelmed. Their courtship culminates into a marriage rather quickly. Nora is now beginning to sense things aren't quite right within the Faitoren kingdom, but she is too enchanted to be able to say how she really feels. It is during Nora's pregnancy that she realizes the full extent of the trouble she's in and, thanks to a chance encounter with a magician, she calls to him for help and is able to escape her Faitoren prison.

Aruendiel is reluctant to help Nora escape, but has given his word so he responds when her call for help comes to him. Nora is on the verge of death giving birth to her half-breed baby and Aruendiel helps save her yet again. Once she's healed, Nora continues living with Aruendiel. She "earns her keep" by helping out where she's needed. Aruendiel eventually begins teaching Nora how to perform magic due to her natural inclination towards the practice. The bond between Nora and Aruendial is tentative, but it continues to grow. By the time a passage back to her world opens up, their bond has grown so much that Nora's torn about whether to stay or leave.

This was an interesting book. Even though there were instances of extreme magical situations, I didn't find the story to be instantaneously emotional. Rather, the emotions of story built within the reader over time. I know the book is over 500 pages, but don't let that intimidate you. The story flows really well and before you know it you've read over 100 pages in one sitting.

If you like immediate emotionalism, like with thrillers, then The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic is not for you. If you enjoy literary fiction that builds within you over time, then this book is perfect for you.

*A hardcover copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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