Reviews

Library Journal
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Ever wanted to completely escape your life? Nora is a graduate student whose dissertation is stalled and whose boyfriend is getting married-to someone else. On a weekend getaway, Nora wanders off and accidentally slips through a portal into another world. At first it is fairy tale-like, but soon the darker side becomes apparent. How will this modern woman survive in a strange, magical world and will she be able to find her way home? VERDICT This is an intelligent, well-plotted fantasy set in a rich and complex world-a perfect escapist fantasy for a hot summer day. (LJ 7/13) (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Nora Fischer has lost everything: dumped by her boyfriend, her dissertation going nowhere fast, her life an empty shell. She decides she needs an escape. In this ambitious, densely packed debut by journalist Barker, Nora finds that instead of getting a small break from normality, she has escaped into another world in which magic exists-and is not as cute and cuddly as she might have imagined. Though the story starts with a classic tale of unpleasant fairies working their will, it morphs into something deeper and more nuanced when Nora meets the magician Aruendiel. Barker weaves together classic fantasy and romantic elements (including shout-outs to Pride and Prejudice and hints of Wuthering Heights) to produce a well-rounded, smooth, and subtle tale. Agent: Emma Sweeney, Emma Sweeney Agency. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Meet Nora Fischer, a doctoral student whose dissertation and love life have both hit the skids. Wandering from a boring wedding reception, Nora takes a hike that, after a few wrong turns, leads her to a fabulous mansion where she is transformed into a beautiful woman surrounded by the rich and eclectic. Thus begins Nora's fast-paced adventure, full of romance, magic, and intrigue in which things are never quite as they seem as our heroine soon discovers when her fairy tale turns dark and she must learn the craft of magic from the brooding Aruendiel in order to survive (this reviewer loved their electric interactions). While Nora's academic career and magical talents might seem reminiscent of those of Diana Bishop, the protagonist of Deborah Harkness's Shadow of Night, debut author Barker depends more on new world-building instead of adding a rich dimension of magic to real history as Harkness does. However like in Harkness's work, as the novel closes, Barker leaves Nora poised on the brink of a decision that could lead to another adventure. This reviewer can't wait. VERDICT Readers who love magical fantasy adventures with strong female protagonists will enjoy Barker's novel. And fans of Lev Grossman's The Magicians may also want to try this. [See Prepub Alert, 2/25/13; this title was highlighted at LJ's Day of Dialog Editors' Picks panel.-Ed.]-Crystal Renfro, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib. & Information Ctr., Atlanta (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Dumped by her boyfriend and dissed by her academic advisor, disconsolate graduate student Nora Fischer wanders off a beaten mountain path smack-dab into a parallel universe seemingly populated by glamorous refugees from a Fellini film. Every night is party night for the suddenly and inexplicably gorgeous Nora, who is the unwitting victim of numerous spells cast by Ilissa, her mentor/captor and the undisputed leader of the glamorous gang. Married off to Ilissa's son, who harbors a brutally dark secret, she realizes too late that all is not as it seems beneath the shining veneer of her new world. Making her escape with the aid of an enigmatic wizard who tutors her in magic, she becomes increasingly drawn to him and faces a tough choice when an opportunity to slip back through the portal to her former life presents itself. This dark fairy tale has plenty of curb appeal for a wide range of fantasy, time-travel, and alternate-reality fans.--Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2010 Booklist