Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Book Review: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic
Author: Emily Croy Barker
Source: Library - but you can believe it will be on my Christmas list this year
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 wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty. Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with 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 magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her "real life" against the dangerous power of love and magic.
I am about to reveal a secret that is really not that secret, if you know me. I love fantasy stories, elves, fairies, heroes, dragons, and wizards. A few of my favorite books and movies include The Princess Bride, The Last Unicorn, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. My husband introduced me to the Dragon Lance books, and I read those too. I go to the Renaissance Festival every year, and I every time I contemplate wearing elf ears. I even have my own "One" ring. Then I found this book. The title alone spoke to me - I mean, I am a thinking woman, and I would love a guide to magic.
This book is of course not a "guide" to magic, but a wonderful magical story. We meet Nora Fischer at a pretty low point in her life. She is a grad student who is just scraping by, and her boyfriend has recently left her. After he let her cat out to be run over by a car, of course. If it were me, I wouldn't even want him after that, but Nora does. She is invited to a wedding of a friend, where she runs into the dreaded ex, and as a result, feels pretty sorry for herself. She gets up the morning of the wedding, and takes a walk - and ends up into another world. One filled with magic and spells and wizards and fairy princes. But not all that glitters is gold, as the adage says, and the glamorous new world that Nora is living a fabulous life in, becomes a dark and twisted nightmare.
Enter Arundiel. A grumpy but powerful wizard, Arundiel takes Nora in, pretty begrudgingly. The truth of her situation begins to dawn on Nora, and she realizes she must take control of her life in some way. Her former academic life has not prepared her for life in a rural medieval village, and Nora must make her own place in this world. Nora's curiosity and thirst for knowledge of all sorts though is not quenched by her new position as a servant, and begs Arundiel to teach her magic. I don't blame her, I would want to learn too! Although he is a bit of a grouch and curmudgeon, Nora develops a wee crush on him. (Again, I probably would too)
And then the book ended, and made me yell nooooo right out loud. This couldn't be the end, right? There must be more to the story, even after reading 563 pages, and reading those pages within a span of two days. Feeling desperate, I googled the author to see if there was a sequel in the works, and breathed a sigh of relief to know that it is coming. In like a year, I am sure, but it is still going to exist. Thank God, because I was not happy with the ending. I see the need for it, but I am not willing to accept it for all time.
I think if you are a fantasy nerd like me, you will love this book. If you like the All Souls series by Harkness, or even the Outlander books (well, like Outlander if you twist reality just a little bit more..) then you will definitely like this one. I encourage you to read it, unless you are strictly into realistic fiction. Then you may hate this book. But if you don't mind a little magic in your books, than read this book, fall in love and come back and tell me how much you loved it. You will be enchanted, I promise.