The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker
563 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books, 2013
Genre: Fiction/fantasy
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I don’t think I’ll pick this one up again.


Reviewed by Indiana:

One of the book blurbs claims this book is an imagining of what Hermione Granger would be like all grown up. That’s one of the most inaccurate comparisons I’ve ever read.

The story starts out with a stressed-out and newly single graduate student named Nora Fischer. She is invited to a wedding where she has an unpleasant encounter with her ex-boyfriend and she decides to go for a walk with Pride and Prejudice to clear her head. She stumbles upon a magical realm and gets sucked into this fairy world and is pushed into marrying a man she hardly knows at all and who doesn’t seem to want to hear her speak.

Nora eventually starts to understand that something isn’t right about these people and she is rescued by a wizard named Aruendiel. He’s a powerful yet bitter wizard, who is reluctant to help her beyond getting her away from the creatures she first met.

But there are little to no opportunities for Nora to survive alone in the new (although in a cultural aspect, old) world without learning magic. Basically, the rest of the book is Nora challenging the societal norms of the magical realm, narrowly escaping from the clutches of her non-human husband, and trying to decide if she actually has a thing for Aruendiel or not.

This book could have been 200 pages shorter and it would have packed the same punch, in much, much less time. Also, there are so many points where, as a reader, I wanted to smack the main character. Normally, I would chalk that up to the author planning on writing an annoying character. But because this author called her book The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic, I suspect that she intended Nora to be an intelligent character.

The writing itself is great. It’s what kept me going even when I doubted that the plot would ever move along, or whether or not the lovely Nora would ever figure out what was happening to her.

However, long books have really got to have great plots, as well as fantastic writing. The ending was pretty vague and left me frustrated, however, I was more frustrated at myself that I’d kept on going with it.

Note to self: maybe Pete’s got something right by not finishing books that just aren’t clicking with him.

Did anyone else read this one? If so, do you agree with my thoughts on the plot and on Nora?

Let me know below!

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