Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic Hardcover – August 1, 2013
|New from||Used from|
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Dumped by her boyfriend and dissed by her academic advisor, disconsolate graduate student Nora Fischer wanders off a beaten mountain path smack-dab into a parallel universe seemingly populated by glamorous refugees from a Fellini film. Every night is party night for the suddenly and inexplicably gorgeous Nora, who is the unwitting victim of numerous spells cast by Ilissa, her mentor/captor and the undisputed leader of the glamorous gang. Married off to Ilissa’s son, who harbors a brutally dark secret, she realizes too late that all is not as it seems beneath the shining veneer of her new world. Making her escape with the aid of an enigmatic wizard who tutors her in magic, she becomes increasingly drawn to him and faces a tough choice when an opportunity to slip back through the portal to her former life presents itself. This dark fairy tale has plenty of curb appeal for a wide range of fantasy, time-travel, and alternate-reality fans. --Margaret Flanagan
“Centered on more adult concerns than the Harry Potter books, Barker’s debut is full of allusions to dark fairy tales and literary romances. If Hermione Granger had been an American who never received an invitation to Hogwarts, this might have been her story.”
"A marvelous plot, clever dialogue, and complex characters distinguish The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic. With the intimacy of a classic fairy-tale and the rollicking elements of modern epic fantasy, Emily Croy Barker’s delightful debut will sweep readers into another world. Fun, seductive, and utterly engrossing, this wonderful tale of magic and adventure is a perfect escape from humdrum reality."
—Deborah Harkness, author of the All Souls Trilogy
"To read The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic is to enter a lush, fantastical dream filled with beauty and strangeness, love and cruelty, playfulness and gravitas. Emily Barker has crafted a wholly imaginative and witty debut novel that is unlike any I've read. Mind candy for those of us raised on Harry Potters!"
—Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants
“Think of this book as Hermione Granger: The Grad School Years. An entertaining tale capably told.”
“Barker weaves together classic fantasy and romantic elements (including shout-outs to Pride and Prejudice and hints of Wuthering Heights) to produce a well-rounded, smooth, and subtle tale.”
"Like in Harkness’s work, as the novel closes, Barker leaves Nora poised on the brink of a decision that could lead to another adventure. This reviewer can’t wait. . . . Readers who love magical fantasy adventures with strong female protagonists will enjoy Barker’s novel. And fans of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians may also want to try this.
"This dark fairy tale has plenty of curb appeal for a wide range of fantasy, time-travel, and alternate-reality fans."
“The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic is a medieval fairy tale with a deliciously dark twist . . . a thoroughly enchanting read. . . . Barker has spun a clever, lush yarn that is uniquely its own.”
“The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic embraces many of the things that make portal stories so perennial, with just enough twists that it seems to be in conversation with some of its forebears . . . and . . . suggest[s] deeper issues of power and gender waiting to be explored.”
"Emily Croy Barker has written a sophisticated fairy tale that has one foot through the looking glass and the other squarely planted in the real world. Both classic and wholly original, The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic is an imaginative synthesis of the stories that delighted us as children and the novels that inspired us as adults."
—Ivy Pochoda, author of Visitation Street
“'I wish my life were different. I don’t care how.' So begins perpetual grad student and recently jilted Nora Fischer’s grand adventure into a wonderfully imaginative world of illusion and real magic that reveals the importance of a curious and open mind, learning and love. Author Emily Croy Barker has great fun toying with our ever-shifting notions of work, beauty, belonging, and reality—creating a delightful book for anyone longing to escape the everyday (and who isn’t?!)."
—Karen Engelmann, author of The Stockholm Octavo
“A clever and scrumptious debut fantasy, the kind you happily disappear into for days.”
, author of Magic for Beginners
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
You know how some heroines just make you want to slap them? They're silly, or plain stupid, or say something that doesn't ring true and propels you out of the narrative? Didn't happen. Nora is smart. When she has something to say, it's usually what I'd say in the same situation. She's not overly socially backward (though that would have been an easy pitfall), she does her realistic best.
Characterization-wise, Aruendiel is developed the most and there's still so much there (can't wait for book 2). With Nora, it feels like you slip into her skin. The romance aspect of the novel is frustrating - a really steamy scene or two wouldn't have been unwelcome - but I'll keep my fingers crossed for the sequel. Counting the days. But when a writer puts this much thought into her work, these things take time.
*Why exactly didn't Nora have a phone with her on her initial hike?
* Why exactly did her husband attack her on the staircase? I didn't understand his motivation at all except "he's a bad guy"??
* If Nora's a "thinking woman", then why does she frequently do such unthinking things? She gets carried away by glamour spells and ignores her inner voice, falls for a really obvious trap, and only manages to free her hero from a spell because of her brother? Also, she accepts servitude surprisingly willingly for a headstrong academic. Surely there would have been some consternation to housekeeping and farm work in harsh weather conditions? What was the author trying to say here?
* 500-odd pages and you can't give us a conclusion about Ilissa? Do we even hate her? Or do we feel sorry for her...I'm confused. There's a big part of Aruendiel's story with her that is missing (namely the ending) that could easily have fit somewhere in this tome and gone a long way to explaining how we should see these characters/this world/this book.
* Must every fantasy book leave themselves open for sequels? Not everyone is JK Rowling, but at least she admitted to having a conclusion ready at the onset of writing. I doubt the author had much of a clue where Nora (or any character for that matter) would end up until it was on the page.
The more I consider it, the less I like it.
Nice escapism, but disappointing investment of time.