Book Review: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

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Nora is a graduate student a bit down on her luck. Her studies are not advancing well, and her boyfriend announced his engagement to another woman.

While attending a wedding party, which the previously mentioned boyfriend (freshly ex'd at this point) was also attending, Nora decides that she just needs to get out of the situation. She grabs a book and goes for a long walk, and doesn't come back. 

Nora finds herself in the company of an amazing woman named Ilissa. Ilissa is kind, thoughtful, rich and incredibly generous with her riches. Ilissa invites Nora to stay at her estate for the night to attend an extravagant party, and also to meet her incredibly handsome son. One night becomes two becomes three, etc. Until Nora finds herself in a strange land marrying a man she knows nothing about. It is not until Nora is captured by a couple strange men and meets the magician, Aruendiel, that she begins to understand her current situation. She is in a world she doesn't know, married to a man she doesn't know, about to have a child with this man. She can't recall the last time she had any control over her actions. She has been enchanted by Ilissa. The magician tries to talk her out of returning to husband, but she refuses, her thoughts are still too foggy. 

The truth was planted in Nora's head and there is no going back. Soon the enchantments around her begin to seem less enchanting and she discovers the man that she has married is in fact a monster. 

The first 100-ish pages of this book were incredibly confusing, which lost my interest, but after pushing through, I fell for this novel. I found myself reaching page 450 last night and becoming anxious that there were only 100 pages remaining. 

I tend to not read epic fantasy, the world building - if not properly constructed - can pull me out of the story. However, Barker constructed a setting that felt entirely real to me. Nora encountering the need to learn a new language, money system, and a entirely new set of rules regarding how a young lady should behave. The awkwardness of a 21st century lass living in medieval setting was entertaining and thought-provoking. 

However, my major complaint about this story is that it did not provide closure. I do hope that we see a sequel from Ms Barker. 

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