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The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic: A Novel

Publisher: Penguin Books

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic: A Novel is a new novel by Emily Croy Barker. It’s a fantasy story with a hint of romance from time to time. The story is quite complex with lots of plot twists and turns to keep you engrossed for hours on end.

Nora is a grad student whose career is in danger of dying before it starts; not to mention her lovelife has just gone up in flames when her boyfriend of four years told her he is getting married, to another woman. He even has the gall to ask her if she’ll come to the wedding, which is only 5 months away. Right after all of this, Nora has to go to another couple’s wedding where her ex will also be in attendance. While in the countryside at this wedding, Nora decides she needs some time to herself, so she talks a walk. It’s not hard to see why Nora would wish that her life would somehow change. She wishes for anything to happen because anything would be better than things are now. Well, Nora is going to get her wish.

While out on her walk, she wanders into a very old graveyard surrounded by an iron fence and gate. When she starts to go back, Nora can no longer find her way back. Eventually she finds herself on a grand estate where she meets a woman named Ilissa, who takes an immediate interest in Nora. She asks her all about her life, her loves, and her troubles and she invites Nora to stay for her party that night. Even though Nora is supposed to go to the wedding, she decides to stay with Ilissa instead. When Ilissa introduces Nora to her son Raclin, Nora is sure that her life has become perfect. Raclin is handsome and charming and wants to be with her. Life seems just perfect, but of course, all is not as it seems and nothing is perfect. Once Nora realizes this, there’s only one person that can help her: the magician Aruendiel.

Nora finds that the world she’s in is definitely not her own. She doesn’t know how she’s supposed to behave. She doesn’t have many skills to live and she has absolutely no idea of how to get back home. Aruendiel is the only one who can help her with these things. For the most part he is a grouchy, cantankerous old man, but there are redeeming qualities to him as well. Nora is going to have to learn how to live life in this land and figure out what she can do to get home.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic. I actually wish that it had been divided into two books. The beginning while Nora is with Ilissa and Raclin could have been a whole story by itself. It feels like she knew what she wanted the bulk of the book to be about, but the setup to get there feels very rushed and the writing doesn’t flow as naturally as I would like. At the beginning, it seems that the story jumps from place to place just to set up her life until the real story can start. Once you get into the bulk though, things more or less flow naturally. Given the ending, I am really hoping that she decides to write a sequel quite soon as I’d really love to know what happens from here on out! If you like fantasy or paranormal romance, check out Emily Croy Barker’s The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic today!

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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