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The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic Paperback – 31 Jul 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (31 July 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1405913096
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405913096
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 350,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A marvellous 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, bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches)

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 Croy Barker has crafted a wholly imaginative and witty debut novel that is unlike any I've read (Sara Gruen, author of Water For Elephants)

About the Author

Emily Croy Barker spent almost twenty years as a journalist. A graduate of Harvard University, she is currently the executive editor at The American Lawyer magazine, where she oversees international coverage. She lives in New Jersey. The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Ollivier on 28 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
3.5/5 I haven't read a lot of fantasy in the past, but every once in a while, one catches my eye. Such was the case with Emily Croy Barker's debut novel, The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic. I quite liked the cover and the title intrigued me

Nora Fischer has been dumped by her boyfriend and warned by her advisor that they need to seriously talk about her dissertation. The last thing she wants to do is go to another friend's wedding. But, she does. To get away from everyone for a bit, she takes a walk through a forest.......and gets lost. (First fairy tale element!) She stumbles on to the grounds of an absolutely gorgeous estate. And the owner Illisa and her friends are so much fun. And Illisa's son Raclin is gorgeous. And they'd love for Nora to stay just a bit longer with them........

She does - until she realizes that the glamorous veneer of Illisa's world hides something much darker. And there's no way back to her own world.

I'm not going to go any further than that. Suffice to say there's magic, wizards, magicians, fairies, demons, creatures and oh, so much more. Barker has created a richly detailed alternate world that I could easily picture.

Nora is an interesting protagonist. She seems determined to not see what is in front of her numerous times - from the beginning chapters at Illisa's estate to her first days at the Magician Aruendiel's castle. I admit to not being completely taken with her in the beginning. However, she grows and grew on me as the book progressed. By the end, I quite liked her. She shares the protagonist role with the magician Aruendiel. Him, I liked right from the get go.

Barker has incorporated all the elements of an epic adventure into her book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jk Turner on 29 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't often write reviews, but I actually really enjoyed this book! It's really imaginative and unlike the usual paranormal books, it's intelligently written. The best way to describe it, in my opinion, is as a dark fairytale for adults. Hoping there will be a sequel!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeannie Zelos TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 16 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic Emily Croy Barker.

ARC provided by Netgalley.

I love books about magic, but as this is Emily's début novel I didn't know what to expect. Its been compared to Deborah Harness Witches trilogy which I love, so I put in my request. Started it yesterday and was engrossed and transported into a different world.
It starts in a fairly conventional way, then Grad student Nora wanders off from a wedding party into a churchyard...and steps through into another dimension, populated with all sorts of folk including the Faitloren, a magical group who need her for a specific reason. There follows all sorts of adventures. Fabulous parties with amazing food and clothes, sunshine and sweetness everyday. Nora meets all sorts of people from history, goes all over the world in the blink of an eye and doesn't find anything strange about this, except occasionally a little voice in the back of her mind says "is this real", but then Ilissa plans another party and the roundabout starts again. Once Raclin marries Nora then a different side to the group emerges, and she learns the truth about her friends but she's trapped.
The story is full of kidnappings, rescues, escapes, magical creatures and dangerous undertakings. The magician Aruendiel has taken her in reluctantly, and over the following months she works in his household with his long time housekeeper. Slowly she persuades him to teach her magic, it takes up time but that's something she has in abundance, not knowing when or if ever she can return home.
The descriptions, first of the wonderful parties Ilissa has, and then of the castles and places Nora visits are wonderful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joanne Binks on 14 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I started to read this book and thought I had made a mistake as the beginning was not my cup of tea and a bit flakey, a bit boring but not able to give up on a book, I persevered and I'm glad I did. Once Nora (main character) was rescued, the book just got better and more interesting to the point I struggled to put book down. I wasn't too pleased with the ending either but mainly because I didn't want it to end and seemed to end too abruptly.
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By Macey89 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Oct. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Despite disliking the main character so much I almost quit halfway through, once you get stuck into this book it isn’t half bad!

The first part of this book is pure fairy tale. Our main character, Nora, stumbles upon a beautiful house and gardens deep into the forest. Soon, she’s drawn into the chanting and intoxicating world of Illisa and her friends. Caught up in a whirlwind of parties and swiftly married off to Illisa’s son Raclin, it’s only much later that she starts to regain her faculties enough to understand that she’s been enchanted from the second she clapped eyes on Ilissa, and that the Faitoren are much more than they seem. Desperate to escape their clutches, she flees and is rescued by the magician Aruendiel.

Away from the Faitoren, Nora finds herself in a world reminiscent of Medieval England. With no way to get back to her old life, she learns to adapt to life in his household. This brings some challenges in terms of how conceptions of power and gender are viewed compared to what she's used to. Initially, Nora's relationship with Aruendiel is fraught and strained, with her essentially being an initially unwelcome, dependant houseguest who has yet to prove her worth. Eventually though, they start to work out their differences after she persuades him to start teaching her basic magic. And when Ilissa and Raclin make a play to kidnap Nora back, they trigger the start of a war that’s been a long time coming.

Nora as a main character is incredibly frustrating. The title refers to a ‘thinking women’, but as far as I could tell she did very little thinking until very late on in the book.
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