If Emily Croy Barker has not pumped, pummeled, chiseled, manipulated, drawn, emptied, probed, gasped, fluttered, whirled or wafted the sequel to this book out within the next twenty-four hours, I may cry. If I don’t have my hands on the sequel tomorrow, I will most definitely be throwing a tantrum. There will be ugly crying, feet stomping, curses brewing, and magic steam coming out of my ears. I will stand now on my soap box and let you all know that The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic is the best fantasy book I’ve ever read.
This is one of those times when I purposely found the author on twitter and tweeted her obsessively. Luckily, she’s one of those darling authors who responds to crazy people.
Okay, lets start from the beginning. Penguin graciously sent me two books in the mail and after reading the first twenty of each book I decided to read The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic first. It took me WEEKS, people, WEEKS to pick this book up again because I was just dreading reading a book that wasn’t of my choosing during the summer. Ugh, isn’t it ever my turn. How silly am I? As my students would say, I was acting like a Boom Boom. Once I picked up this book, I couldn’t even watch a full hour of reality television without picking it up again during commercial breaks. Then, I would have to pause The Real Housewives bickering so I could finish the chapter. Thank goodness, Barker thought about her reader and made the chapters relatively short so that a girl could get through a chapter in a tweaked sitting.
You’ll notice in one of those tweets that I called this an “adult fairytale.” I was totally serious. It’s the story of a “thinking woman” who of course I pictured as myself the entire time I was reading. I’m one of those narcissistic readers. She is a graduate student who falls into a world-crease and ends up in a magical land. That just made it sound really lame and I’m sorry guys. If it helps, Barker uses words like, demonstrative, sadomasochistic, etc. The thing I loved about this story was it felt very Lord of the Rings without being overly-thought-out. (No offense to Lord of the Rings fans, my boyfriend will be very disappointed that I just wrote that sentence).
TWGTRM has its own language, its own land maps and truly its own story. How many novels do you meet a girl who feeds William Carlos Williams to an ice demon? It’s a book that’s obviously written for the adult mind in terms of situational elements, vocabulary, and the believable within the unbelievable, but it still has everything we love as children reading fairytales. It’s a bit gritty, and a bit romantic, without having a princess who is stupid enough to believe a crown and a chiseled jaw are the only important things involved in happiness. This princess is far from glass slipper. Nora is tough, sarcastic, sassy, honest, and calm. In the beginning, I was sure that I would loathe her for the entire book, but turns out I couldn’t even loathe the bad guys. The two worst characters are so well-written that I even liked them a little bit, which is all enchantment and hullaballoo.
Nora meets an array of fine characters and as my grandmother would put it, “unsavory” specimen throughout her journey in the new world. We meet the Faitoren who might be fairies that escaped our land during an old-time war. If you’re reading this Emily Croy Barker can we get a full explanation on them and Ilissa? The main Faitoren are llissa and Raclin, both beautiful and dirty. Raclin is pretty sexy during the day though so we give him the benefit of the doubt. There are magicians and wizards who make the world their marble by using the nature around them to develop powerful skills. I really liked how she described magic in this world because it dealt heavily in connecting to your surroundings and using the trees, woods, and land as the grounded source of your power. My favorite character, Mrs. Toristel, is grandmotherly to the bitter end. She’s the true woman of the household and bittersweet in all the right ways. I adore her protectiveness over the people of her house even without knowing their secrets. She was a profound and beautiful character for a story that usually wouldn’t have very many humble main characters.
For being a five-hundred page book, it never lulled. Even when it wasn’t action-packed, it was still intriguing because you wanted to know equally what was happening between the characters as what was happening within the plot. They need to put “unputdownable” on the book jacket to sell this one because that’s what my mom looks for when picking out my father’s books. He liked The Hunger Games so I think I’ll pass this one on to him next, which says a lot about the book because my father and I do not read the same books usually. This is that kind of book though, it’s the kind of book that a daughter can eat for a week and then pass to her father for him to eat over the weekend. Delicious in all its sweet fantasy. (I typed fantasty accidentally and thought that would be a perfect made-up word for this book).
I wish I could tell you more about the plot, but I don’t want to ruin even a single hair of this book for your reading. It’s available on August 5th in hardback. Just a warning though, this is a book where you have to hide from your family in order to actually read in peace because you won’t want to do anything but veg and fantasize. If you absolutely can’t wait, then enter my giveaway! If you enter and win, you will just email me your address and Penguin will send you a beautiful hardcover of this thrilling novel. Good luck to everyone who enters because this is a darn-tootin’ good one.
I am a writer, educator and genuine creative living on the coast of NC. Our house is built on sunshine with my husband BJ, dog named Tucker, and our two very sassy cats: Fromage and Jasper.