Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday Reads: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

If you've been following my blog for any amount of time at all, you know I am all about my fantasy books.  When I found this one, I was on the hunt for something with a strong female protagonist.  I'm still not sure if that is what I found...but it was still a fairly entertaining read.

In a nutshell, Nora goes away for a weekend to attend a friends wedding.  Unfortunately her evil ex is also there.  To forget about him for a while, she grabs a book and heads off for a hike in the woods to find some solitude for a while.  As she is wandering around, she begins to realize she might be lost...and ends up finding an old cemetery, surrounded by an iron fence.   After reading the inscription on one of the tombstones, she walks out of the gate and realizes she really is lost.  Shortly, she finds herself in the middle of a grand estate.  The only thing she doesn't realize is that the "estate" belongs to the queen of the Faitoren people.  Nora is in a different world!

In the months that pass, she is swept up into a series of extravagant parties and the charms of the prince, Raclin.  On a picnic one day, she accidentally wanders out of the Faitoren territory and meets the wizard who gives her a token in case she ever needs to be saved from the Faitoren.  At the time, she thinks his warnings ridiculous.

And then she marries Raclin...and her life becomes a living hell as the only reason they wanted her was to continue the Faitoren race.   After a brutal attack one day that nearly kills her and does claim her unborn child, she activates the token and Arundiel (the wizard) saves her life and, eventually, makes her his apprentice.

I don't want to tell too much.  This book contained everything I look for in a book, but I am not sure if it all fits together that well.  At times, Nora came across with some strength and then other times she fell into being a "typical woman" and I say that with disparagement.   I didn't like when she would revert into simpering and bemoaning.   I much preferred when she was leading missions to save those she grew to love.  But in retrospect - really, she was just as most of us actually are.  Strong when we need to be, overcome when we feel to be, and as human as we want to be.

I enjoyed the book, though I did feel there were many parts that were entirely too predictable and others that just lasted far too long.  It is a long-ish book but it is a captivating story that will draw you in.  It would be a good one to read in the backyard this summer.

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