The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

eBook - 2013
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An imaginative story of a woman caught in an alternate world—where she will need to learn the skills of magic to surviveNora Fischer's dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman. During a miserable weekend at a friend's wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she's transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty. Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It's almost too good to be true.Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora's new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel's student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her "real life" against the dangerous power of love and magic.
Publisher: 2013
ISBN: 9781101585573
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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c
CharAdcock
Apr 29, 2019

I don't really know why so many people have given this such a high rating. I've read several fantasy novels better than this one. It starts out slow...and doesn't really pick up. Not all bad: It made some sense to be so slow while Nora was with the Faitoren. It reflected how out of it she was. After that I expected things to get more exciting, but our main heroine doesn't even begin to actually learn magic until about 300 pages into the 550ish page book. I thought by this point things would really (finally) pick up, but I was disappointed. There's a lot of random "development" that really doesn't add much to the story.
Despite the speed at which things progress, I appreciate the (attempt at) world building (I wasn't really getting a clear picture...A for effort?) and some of the characters. Nora is not a bad protag and I liked Hiriz too. However, I was a little disturbed by the author's attempts to pair the main character with Arundiel...who is not only decades older than her (thanks to magic, but still) but also kind of a jerk, to put it nicely. I understand there's meant to be references to Pride & Prejudice but it doesn't carry over well.
In a nutshell: Not the worst fantasy book I've read, but not even close to being a good one. Unless you're looking to fall asleep while reading, I'd go for something else.

j
jmath_
Apr 14, 2019

I had so much fun reading this book; I loved all of the setting shifts and detailing in each aspect of the magical realms the author created. I'm also a big Diana Wynne Jones fan, and the subtlety yet somehow strong romance in this book gave off some Howl + Sophie vibes. The book is ~560 pages, which seemed like a lot before delving in- but once I started reading I found myself not wanting the stories to end; I think the novel was well constructed in this way. I hear there is a sequel in the works which is really exciting!

s
sello002
Mar 06, 2018

For those of you who enjoyed Harry Potter (like myself!), this is a fantastic story into the depths of a different magical world! I loved how strong Nora was throughout the book, even standing up for herself in the most terrifying of situations. It was a slow start, but the action picked up as you got more into it. Give it a chance! I was thoroughly impressed with how intricate the history of this world was. It was so important in understanding what everyone was capable of, why there were struggles, and who could be trusted. Would definitely recommend!

n
nbaquino
Jan 04, 2018

Took too long for some action, kinda predictable, couldn't finish the book.

s
s390325
Jan 26, 2017

This is an amazing, fascinating, stay up all night to finish book! I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am eagerly awaiting a sequel! I read a review that compared Nora to an adult Hermione Granger. I think a better comparison is an adult Hermione stuck in a Muggles only world, who falls into Middle Earth and finds one teacher from Hogwarts, then cross that plot with Pride and Prejudice. The premise was enticing from the start- who wouldn't want to leave a hum drum existence and go into a magical world where everything is beautiful and fun and glamorous? Sounds great and it is great, until Nora realizes she's been enchanted by fairies, who are not really nice at all. Once the enchantments wears off, she realizes that she is basically in the Middle Ages (without one ruling religion) when it comes to government, technology, and attitudes towards women. I was impressed by Nora's perseverance to survive and understand this new world, and to learn how to speak and read the language and learn magic. I found myself comparing the way magic is described and controlled in this book and the Harry Potter books. I don't think any Harry Potter books explain why or how magic works. In this book, there are wizards and magicians. Wizards can be just about anyone who can learn a spell, because a demon or ghost is "caught" in the spell and does the magic. This means many wizards have "bought" the soul of a condemned prisoner, etc., so that they can have an effective spell. If that were the case in the world of Harry Potter, there wouldn't be many people left alive! A magician, in the world Nora falls into, is able to do magic because he or she can connect with some important element- fire, water, earth, stone, wood- and convince it to do the magic. I like that explanation of magic a lot better, it seems more friendly and natural. I knew (from the book jacket) that Nora would have to face a choice between staying in this world or returning to her own. *Spoiler alert* It doesn't seem like she is really given a chance to think about whether or not she wants to go back before she does. I also thought that this choice would come a lot sooner in the book and not just before the end. Although there are references to Pride and Prejudice from the start of the book, towards the end it becomes blatantly obvious that she sees herself as Elizabeth Bennet and Arundiel is Mr. Darcy. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Darcy was older than Elizabeth Bennet, but not by hundreds of years, which seems like it could present a real problem. I am still rooting for them to get together because I enjoyed watching Arundiel's character change as he gets used to this young woman from another world who breaks many social norms, speaks her mind, and has the aptitude and desire to become a magician. He bends for her. She seems like she is getting used to a lot of the status quo and is learning a lot, but I don't think she has changed as much as Arundiel does.
I like the fact that her youngest sister was able to see her and Arundiel when he performs magic so she is able to see her family on Earth, and therefore is the only person on Earth to believe the "I got trapped in another world" story. (I love the part when Arundiel makes the cat able to talk (or that the sister can understand the cat), but the cat doesn't have anything nice to say). I'm glad Nora has one person who is encouraging her to fight to get back to where she wants to be and the opportunities that she has there. It ends on a hopeful note, but I really was hoping for the "happily ever after" ending... maybe we'll get it whenever the sequel comes out!

larissaneale Jul 08, 2015

I loved this book. Would highly recommend.

r
romantique1915
Jun 15, 2015

As auspicious as it appeared, and as favourable the reviews by competent authors were, this mediocre novel with its poorly thought out plot was a great disappointment on so many levels. First of all, anyone comparing the heroine, Nora to Hermione must be either blind or illiterate because this insipid, supposed graduate student of English literature spends much of her story in either complete idiocy ( who in their right mind seeing a glass of punch in the middle of the forest decides to drink it?) or whining about the patriarchal society that she has wandered into. Random seemingly important allusions (who IS EJ, anyway?) which in any other novel would prove to be significant to the climax of the story are here just as unimportant as they appear to be, and are more annoying for their lack of import. One has to wonder whether the editor even bothered to read the manuscript before sending this book, incredible in its redundancy, to print. What makes this all the more confusing is that Barker herself apparently holds a degree from Harvard. Evidently, it is not in either English or Journalism, both of which generally teach their students how to formulate an intelligent written work, and how to do research on the topic at hand.

s
SybilWood
May 31, 2014

Superb. I liked it so much I immediately started listening (to the CD Version) again. I'm hoping for a sequel or better yet a multi-volume series.

c
Citizenofthecosmos
Apr 03, 2014

This book was recommended to me by a woman friend in the book trade. We both love it and are eagerly awaiting the sequel.

h
hopefoot27
Feb 03, 2014

Amazing book, great escape from the real world! Though a rather lengthy book at over 400 pages, I couldn't put it down and wished for more!

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jmath_
Apr 14, 2019

"It was one thing to read about a society obsessed with female purity- quite another to find yourself living in one"

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