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 Hogwarths, this might have been her story.
[A]mbitious, densely packed.... Nora [Fischer]...has escaped into another world in which magic exists—and is not as cute and cuddly as she might have imagined. Though the story starts with a classic tale of unpleasant fairies working their will, it morphs into something deeper and more nuanced.... [A] well-rounded, smooth, and subtle tale.
Nora Fischer, a doctoral student whose dissertation and love life have both hit the skids....is transformed into a beautiful woman surrounded by the rich and eclectic. Thus begins Nora's fast-paced adventure, full of romance, magic, and intrigue in which things are never quite as they seem. —Crystal Renfro, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib. & Information Ctr., Atlanta
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.
[G]raduate student Nora Fischer wanders...smack-dab into a parallel universe seemingly populated by glamorous refugees from a Fellini film.... [But] all is not as it seems beneath the shining veneer of her new world.... This dark fairy tale has plenty of curb appeal for a wide range of fantasy, time-travel, and alternate-reality fans. —Margaret Flanagan
Debut novelist Barker turns in a pleasant if largely predictable fantasy yarn. [A] brilliant literary scholar....wanders through a mysterious portal into the otherworld.... Will she ever find her true love in the magic kingdom? Will she get back to real life in time to pay her tuition? Barker's pages tell all—and leave plenty of room for a sequel or even a series.... An entertaining tale capably told.
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