To Read or Not to Read?

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

(I am shortening the title to “The Guide” for simplicities sake for the duration of this review.)

The Guide is the story of Nora Fischer, a grad student who wanders off during a weekend away and ends up in a magical realm.

With recommendations from authors like Deborah Harkness and blurbs comparing the book to Pride and Prejudice and the main character to Hermione Granger I thought there was no way I wouldn’t like this book. I was wrong.

The pacing of The Guide was all wrong. Too fast in the first third and far too slow from there on to the end. And yes this is the first book in a series but that is no excuse for such an ending. Sure you want readers to have a reason to come back and read more but you still make the first book feel like it is complete. The Guide has no resolution which is ridiculous since it’s over five hundred pages long.

And the characters. Nora is not like Hermione Granger in the slightest because Hermione is not a freaking idiot. Sure Nora is swayed by magic she doesn’t understand at the beginning but even once she’s unmagicked and starts learning it herself she proves to be an idiot. She throws tantrums and is super wishy washy about everything.

Then we come to her teacher/love interest, the magician Aruendiel. I only knew he was meant to be a love interest because comparisons to Pride and Prejudice were constantly shoved down the readers throat. Only in Pride and Prejudice I can see hints that Darcy was interested before he admitted it. Over five hundred pages and I saw maybe one suggestion that Arundiel was romantically interested in Nora. The rest of the time he treated her like she was an annoying granddaughter.

Too many strings were left tangled for me to recommend this to anyone. It was disappointing, unnecessarily long and yet somehow still didn’t have enough plot substance to sustain it.

I will not be finishing this series.


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