Saturday, August 03, 2013

Review: Thinking Woman's Guide to Practical Magic by Emily Croy Barker

I was so excited about reading this book.  It sounded so cool based on the description.  University setting and magic, other worlds and romance.  All things I love.

And it started out okay.  I loved the magical world the main character found herself in.  Everything seemed so beautiful and wonderful.  I was a little thrown by the writing style, seemed to be a lot of, this happened and then this and this and this.  I suppose it was intentional, so that as readers we had the same blurry, fast-paced impressions as Nora.

Once Nora left this world though, and ended up living with an old wizard, I quickly began to lose interest and wished I'd not already invested so much time in the story.

I thought the author did a great job in creating these other worlds and complex characters.  But I didn't like the characters, the more I knew about them, the more I disliked them.  And the world they were in didn't seem all that wonderful either.  It was cold and the people seemed kind of dirty and crude.  It simply wasn't a place when I wanted to spend time.

People I respect have given this book high praise, so I forced myself to finish the book - though I admit to skimming parts of it, because things kept happening that made me angry. 

Nora was so weak.  She was supposed to be a smart grad student, but she didn't seem very intelligent at all.  In the beginning, she's upset about being dumped by her boyfriend, and she doesn't seem to be doing very well at her job either.  It's understandable that she would behave submissively while enchanted.  But even after the enchantment, when she's living with the wizard, she behaves so weakly, I found it difficult to read.

There's a scene where she's ordered to burn her boots - boots which she bought herself.  I got so angry reading that.  I wanted to stop then, but like I said, I'd already put quite a bit of time into the book.

What bothered me the most though is that I felt readers were expected to view the wizard as some sort of romantic hero.  In my mind, he just seemed old (yuck) and grouchy - not sexy.  The idea that Nora would be attracted to him creeped  me out quite a bit.  Just another example of her weakness.

This book simply wasn't for me.  I need the women in my stories to be a bit stronger, a bit more interesting and independent.

I received a review copy of this via NetGalley.  I also received a copy of this book through a GoodReads giveaway, and thus feel quite guilty about not liking it.  I do plan to pass on the copy I won to a friend that I think may like it more than I did.    

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