Episode # 12

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

Emily Croy Barker

An imaginative story of a woman caught in an alternate world—where she will need to learn the skills of magic to survive. Read More »

On Sale Date:


Pamela Dorman Books
576 pgs.
Pamela Dorman Books


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The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

Nora 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.

Praise for The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

“To read The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic is to enter a lush, fantastical dream filled with beauty and strangeness, love and cruelty, playfulness and gravitas. Emily Barker has crafted a wholly imaginative and witty debut novel that is unlike any I've read. Mind candy for those of us raised on Harry Potters!”
Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

“Emily Croy Barker has written a sophisticated fairy tale that has one foot through the looking glass and the other squarely planted in the real world. Both classic and wholly original, The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic is an imaginative synthesis of the stories that delighted us as children and the novels that inspired us as adults.”
Ivy Pochoda, author of The Art of Disappearing

“After reading many of the academic dusty library scholar turned witch travel log books, I would still not consider myself an expert. Only that it is my personal quicksand of the shelves and shelves to pick through. My guilty pleasure. With a secret smile I thought this would be just another dive into the paranormal archives, but Barker smoothed that out quickly. The hike through the woods felt so easily like these Appalachian woods in my backyard. Nora took on the role of boon companion within the first paragraph. Each chapter flew. Her subtle character descriptions and magic-y parts work with the precision of being read to on a long road-trip. I didn't want to get out of the car. More to the point: I believed her. Many thanks for shaking up my usual go-to reading--this was a marvelous read!”
Emily, City Lights Bookstore Sylva, NC

Emily Croy Barker spent almost twenty years as a journalist and had great fun turning her writing skills to fiction to produce The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic, her first novel. A graduate of Harvard University, she is currently the executive editor at The American Lawyer magazine, where she oversees international coverage. She lives in New Jersey.