book review,  Books

Review: Alice Hoffmann’s The Rules Of Magic

Review: Alice Hoffmann’s The Rules Of MagicThe Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Published by Simon & Schuster on October 10th 2017
Pages: 384

Find your magic

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.
Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.


I fear this may be a review that should have involved a thesaurus, so I will apologize in advance for the repetitive use of the word “magic” — but that is what this book is.


Seems to be a bit redundant, given the title, but I can honestly say this may be my favorite Alice Hoffman book to date.

The Rules of Magic is the prequel to her 1995 novel Practical Magic. You definitely do not have to have read it to enjoy this book  (but knowing that it was the prequel, I confess I did get my hands on a copy of Practical Magic to re-read after I read this, because that’s how I roll. Sequentially.)

If you are a fan of magical realism, this book is for you – but this book is So much more than magic and witches (or witches who aren’t supposed to practice magic, or wear black, or wear red shoes, or not walk in the moonlight). This is the story of family, and love – and of how you can’t avoid love, no matter how hard you try (because you’ve been told that it will end in disaster). This is a story about family secrets and how they form you. It’s a tale of sacrifice.

It’s gorgeous.

Hoffman’s words flow from the page and wrap around you, gently tugging you into the world she has created. Her writing is lyrical and visual, and her characters are interesting and perplexing and maddening at times.

Magical and beautiful, I was sucked into the lives of the Owens family – Jet, Franny and Vincent. Hoffman has neatly woven their family history into that of the Massachusetts witch trials, and their mother Susanna’s attempts to keep them away from any semblance of magic because of their history fails despite her efforts. Haunting at times, lonely, heartbreaking, and alternately uplifting and hopeful, The Rules of Magic is a book you will want to linger over.

I received an advanced reader copy through the publisher, Simon and Schuster, in exchange for my honest review – the only kind I provide. All thoughts, opinions (and typos) are my own.

This post contains affiliate links through which I support my coffee and reading habits.

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