Book Review: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic

by Emily Croy Barker

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic When I finished this book, I was initially very frustrated- until I realized that this is the first book in a series and not a standalone, despite Goodreads’ lack of series qualifier. So be forewarned if you choose to read this! It is a series, and the next book isn’t out yet.

This is one of those titles that caught my eye on the New Fiction shelf at the library, and I couldn’t resist. Nora is a modern-day American who stumbles unknowingly through a doorway to an alternate world while walking in the mountains. This new world has the glamorous Ilissa, who immediately befriends Nora and ushers her into a whirlwind of parties and entertainment. Nora is dazzled, losing track of time and pursuing a romance with the dashing Raclin. Until one day she wanders away from the group to gather flowers and meets the irascible Aurendiel, who warns her not to trust Ilissa and that everything is not as it seems. He also claims to be a magician. With the glamour pulled from her eyes, Nora realizes she is no longer in her own world, and that this new world is medieval and dangerous and positively full of magic. Used to being an independent woman, she realizes her only true hope of surviving and finding a way home is to learn magic herself. This ensues a slow-burn adventure story, full of political maneuverings, magical escapades, and a increasingly complicated relationship with the magician Aurendiel. It’s a fun read, though not a quick one. It definitely isn’t what you’d call a fast-paced plot. And the story also serves as a sort of commentary on gender inequality (unavoidable if the MC is a female in a medieval setting, I think). But I enjoyed it nonetheless. It was refreshing to have a cross-worlds story where the main character is not part of some prophecy or instantly an expert at magic. And the cast of supporting characters are fun and intriguing. I look forward to the second book.

I give it 3.5/5 stars.

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The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic