The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love the "going through a gateway to another world" genre. And I will read the next book if there's a sequel. I don't have so much liking for "woman abused by Faerie." All this is on the cover flap, so I don't consider it spoilers. That is the first part of the book, and I found it hard going; it's the reason the book has only four stars. The writer won me over, and finally the plot started moving along--so much that it went from 3 to 4 stars. The grit and dreariness of dealing with another society without our tech mod cons (plumbing!) has been done before, too. See Household Gods by Judith Tarr & Harry Turtledove, Night-Threads series by Ru Emerson, Darwath series by Barbara Hambly, and for Faerie abuse see Duainfey, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. But there is original magic in The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic, hurray!
Nora is a graduate student in literature who has just been dumped by her boyfriend. At a country wedding, she slips through a gateway into another world, with only her clothes and a copy of Pride and Prejudice in her back pocket. Who knew that a gift for literary detail would translate into an aptitude for magic? Austen proves a handy guide to society's setup in this new world, and Nora has a hard time of it, but as I said, things look up. The difference between magic and wizardry is quite neatly delineated. The last half of the book is speedy reading and fun, and the trick of how to feed a snow demon without feeding it your soul and that of your companion is probably what earned that 4th star.
It's the first time I'm aware of someone trying Jane Austen in fantasy--though Sharon Lee and Steve Miller do a great job of honoring Georgette Heyer in their Liaden space opera. I'm a fan of both.
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