Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic (Barker)

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic 
Emily Croy Barker, 2013
Penguin Group (USA)
567 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780670023660

With her dissertation stalled and her ex-boyfriend engaged to another woman, Nora Fischer finds herself flailing. While suffering through a friend's wedding weekend, Nora wanders into the woods to clear her head and somehow discovers a portal that transports her away from her current misery into a world unlike anything she's known before.

There, Nora meets a mysterious and powerful woman named Ilissa and her suave son, Raclin. Nora is seduced by the excitement of this new realm, and she tumbles headlong into a passionate romance with Raclin. The wondrous veneer soon fades though, and Nora realizes she's not only caught in a strange, foreign land but she has been thrust into an age-old power struggle between Ilissa, Raclin and their nemesis, the magician Aruendiel.

When Nora finds her life in danger, it is Aruendiel who comes to her rescue and who reluctantly agrees to mentor her in the spells and magic that she'll need to survive in this new and perilous world. Despite Aruendiel's reclusive, acerbic nature, Nora begins growing closer to him. As her spell-casting skills grow, Nora encounters plenty of magical characters including a former witch-priestess-turned magician and her dangerous pet, a wizard with literary ambitions, and an ice demon whose deadly hunger is tamed only by poetry. As the land readies for war, Nora is alone at a crossroads with a decision to make: stay in this realm of magic or return to her own world?

Emily Croy Barker has written a richly imagined debut that is steeped in the literature of fantasy, fairy tale, and classic fiction. Readers will find all sorts of homages in The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic-from Beauty and the Beast, to Alice in Wonderland, to classic journeys to the underworld. And they will fall for Nora, who is indeed a thinking woman's heroine: smart, quirky, witty, and best of all, very real.

For lovers of Lev Grossman's The Magicians series (The Magicians and The Magician King) and Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy (A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night). (From the publisher.)

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