Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Published by
Viking / Pamela Dorman (2013-08)
Current material
MS: Complete Edited
Original language


by Barker, Emily Croy

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

Bored, heart-broken, and academically fatigued, Nora Fischer needs a change. And a change she gets. One minute she is in a beautiful garden near a tiny cemetary at a wedding reception, and the next she has been mysteriously transported to an alternate universe where she finds herself amidst glamorous new friends, incredible parties, and a steamy new romance.

Nora is having an amazing time - until her fairy tale darkens. Men rule with swords and magic, and most women are illiterate and treated like chattel. In order to survive, Nora will have to learn magic from a reclusive magician with a murderous past. When a passage finally opens to Nora's own world, she must choose between her real life and her new life of danger, magic - and love.

Emily Croy Barker is currently deputy editor at The American Lawyer magazine. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a bachelor's degree in English literature. After working as an editorial assistant at Viking Penguin, she became a magazine journalist; her stories have ranged from getting the inside account of the Exxon Valdez jury deliberations to covering the anything-goes entrepreneurship of the dot-com boom to profiling a teenaged girl arrested for murder. Her work has appeared in Inc., Harvard, and CosmoGIRL! magazines, as well as American Lawyer. She lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. This is her first novel.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Sebastian Ritscher

Available View on Rightsdesk


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!

Quote: Sara Gruen

Nora Fischer needs to hit reset after her boyfriend announces he’s marrying someone else and her faculty advisor expresses doubt about Nora’s job prospects. But a walk in the woods sends Nora into far deeper trouble when she wanders into an enchanted realm controlled by a fairy queen. It takes a few hundred pages—and a violent assault—for Nora to escape. Only then, under the tutelage of magician Aruendiel, does she find a new direction. Centered on more adult concerns than the Harry Potter books, Barker’s debut is full of allusions to dark fairy tales and literary romances. If Hermione Granger had never received an invitation to Hogwarts, this might have been her story.

Review: People Magazine

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.

Quote: Ivy Pochoda

THE THINKING WOMAN'S GUIDE TO REAL MAGIC has been selected as one of's Best Books of the Month! (August 2013)

Quote: Amazon - Best Books of the Month

A marvelous plot, clever dialogue, and complex characters distinguish The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic. With the intimacy of a classic fairy-tale and the rollicking elements of modern epic fantasy, Emily Croy Barker’s delightful debut will sweep readers into another world. Fun, seductive, and utterly engrossing, this wonderful tale of magic and adventure is a perfect escape from humdrum reality.

Quote: Deborah Harkness

'I wish my life were different. I don’t care how.' So begins perpetual grad student and recently jilted Nora Fischer’s grand adventure into a wonderfully imaginative world of illusion and real magic that reveals the importance of a curious and open mind, learning and love. Author Emily Croy Barker has great fun toying with our ever-shifting notions of work, beauty, belonging, and reality—creating a delightful book for anyone longing to escape the everyday (and who isn’t?!).

Quote: Karen Engelmann

A clever and scrumptious debut fantasy, the kind you happily disappear into for days.

Quote: Kelly Link

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