A woman is transported back in time to an alternate world and falls madly in love with a handsome hero. That’s the ostensible plot of this book – but believe me, it’s nowhere near being that neat and predictable! For one thing, the woman is feisty, frustrated graduate student Nora Fischer: smart, self-sufficient, and not a great fit in her new world, where women are treated as second-class citizens. For another, her whirlwind romance is not what it seems – she’s been bewitched by a group of evil creatures called the Faitoren. Eventually Nora esacpes the Faitoren with the help of the wizard Aruendiel, and begins to learn some magic of her own. In the meantime, she must deal with the Faitoren, who still wish to capture her and defeat Aruendiel – while trying to figure out how she can make it back to her home in present-day North Carolina.
Author Emily Croy Barker does a great job of world-building in this book – I was completely transported to her imagined medieval world of Semr. Nora is a wonderfully relatable character because she’s flawed, and she has to struggle to find her way in her new surroundings. Her relationship with cranky, brilliant Aruendiel is unconventional and fun. The plot moves along quickly, with enough action to keep the pages turning.
If you liked Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches, this is definitely a book for you. And it’s clearly set up to be the first in a series, so there’s more good stuff ahead!