Book Review: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by: Emily Croy Barker

Publisher: Penguin Books

Publication Date: July 29, 2014

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Synopsis: During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, eager to forget about her disastrous breakup and stalled dissertation, Nora Fischer wanders off and somehow finds herself in another realm. There, she meets glamorous Ilissa—who introduces Nora to a decadent new world—and her gorgeous son Raclin. But when the elegant veneer of this dreamland shatters, Nora finds herself in a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. And the only way she can survive is by learning real magic herself.

Review: When I was sent THE THINKING WOMAN’S GUIDE TO REAL MAGIC for review, I was excited to read it. I thought it was going to be like Deborah Harkness’ debut novel. Unfortunately, I found THE THINKING WOMAN’S GUIDE TO REAL MAGIC paled in comparison. Nora Fischer is in danger of losing her career over her stalled dissertation and her love life is in shambles. When she wanders off, she ends up in an entirely new realm. She meets Ilissa and her beautiful son, Raclin, along with all of Ilissa’s subjects. Caught up in beautiful dresses, lavish parties, and a whirlwind romance, Nora is blind to what is really occurring around her. When the fantasy shatters, Nora is rescued by Aruendiel, a magician, and learns the world she’s living in is nothing like it seems. It was odd to me how Nora, a Ph.D. student in literature wasn’t astute enough to recognize Ilissa and her ilk for their true natures when the voice inside her told her something was wrong. Nora seems resigned to her new life at Aruendiel’s castle, helping the house matron, and barely seeing the magician. Once Nora finally convinces him to teach her magic (which was hard to do since in this realm women are not held in high esteem), it gets a little more interesting. The tempo of the story is slow and is overall too long of a book. It took me a while to get through THE THINKING WOMAN’S GUIDE TO REAL MAGIC because of this and because of how frustrating Nora is as a character. There wasn’t any character I really was drawn to or sympathized with in this entire story. I wish the author the best, but I may not be reading any more of her books.

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