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Sunday, August 24, 2014

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

I had high expectation when I started reading this book because it sounded like a wonderful fantasy novel, with a modern twist. I was pleasantly surprised by the expansive fantasy world debut author Emily Croy Barker created. If it weren't for the modern main character that comes from "our world," this book would be lost on the fantasy shelves. What makes it stand out among the other fantasy books is that modern and relatable main character that allows us to discover this fantasy world through her eyes.

Nora is like any ordinary woman living in the United States. She's a grad student that has sort of lost her way with her dissertation topic and like so many 30-something independent women, she's heartbroken because her longstanding boyfriend dumped her to marry his new fling. Somehow, as she's taking a walk in the forest, she finds herself in a new world without realizing it. Attracted by all the splendors her new friend Ilissa offers, she feels prettier and happier than she's ever felt before. The grand parties, the long days of simply relaxing, and the attraction to Ilissia's handsome son allows her to escape her ordinary life and live a grand adventure. However, little does she know that everything is not what it seems and that she's just living some type of illusion. This illusion is really the part I love to hate about the book because Nora is definitely not a thinking woman in this part of the book. She's gullible, allows herself to be pulled this way and that, without any conscious thought. She definitely doesn't have a free thought in her mind at this point. It's almost as if she's brainwashed and you feel like slapping her in the face to wake her up from the fake life she's living.

In comes Aruendiel, a strong magician who's able to shake Nora out of the fake fairy tale and save her probably from an untimely death. Aruendiel is the perfect character, in my opinion. As a magician, he has lived a long time so he definitely has his wise moments, but he's also quick tempered, grumpy, and set in his ways. Having Nora in his life unravels his quiet little life because her modern thinking and her incessant need to learn isn't what her expects of women. In his world, women are usually illiterate, not free thinking and definitely don't see themselves equal to men. The culture is very similar to our world's England 200 or 300 years ago and unprepared for Nora's modernity. The difference in opinions makes Aruendiel and Nora have multiple disagreements since their ways of thinking are definitely not on the same level. So when Nora teaches herself to read and write the complex language of Ors, the magician finally realizes that she may not be as senseless and simple as he originally thought. The dynamics between the two characters is fun to read and Nora seems to know exactly how to get under the magician's skin. Eventually, Aruendiel agrees to take Nora on as his pupil to teach her magic, but little does she know that the art of magic may be her only way to save herself. The hint of romance is definitely there but despite their intelligent minds, the two characters are blinded by social norms.

THE THINKING WOMAN'S GUIDE TO REAL MAGIC is a brilliant and modern fairy tale that warns us about things that are too good to be true, and teaches us that whatever we set our minds to, we can achieve if we practice and study enough. Emily Croy Barker's writing is fascinating, thrilling, and makes us live a wonderful tale of magic, suspense and wonder. The intermingling of Nora's modernity and this fantasy world has created a wonderful epic story. I actually love the slow build up because like any great fantasy novel, the details are what allows us to better understand  and live the fantasy world. Hopefully the author will keep writing about Nora and Aruendiel because their story is far from over, especially with this awful cliffhanger.


Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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1 Person left their mark:

  1. This sounds like a lot of fun. Who wouldn't love a fun and modern magical fairy tale?