Book Review: The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

If you are a fan of Practical Magic, then you will enjoy its prequel, The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman.

The Owens family has always been a magical one, dating back in Massachusetts to 1620 when Maria Owens was tried and executed for witchery. Her crime was only to love a man who betrayed her. Maria cursed love for the future Owens’. Fast forward several generations, Susanna Owens is raising her three children in New York City, Franny, Jet, and Vincent. Being a descendent of Maria Owens, Susanna is determined to keep magic out of her children’s lives. In her attempt to escape the Owens curse herself, Susanna keeps her marriage more of a partnership than romantic, but she worries for her children. Franny has flawless skin with blood-red hair, Jet is extremely beautiful with the blackest hair, and Vincent is handsome and charming right from birth. Susanna forbids her children from magic, from walking in the moonlight, no red shoes or wearing black, no cats, no crows, no books on magic, and warns them to never fall in love.

When Franny, the oldest of the children, turns seventeen, she is invited to visit Aunt Isabella in a tiny town in Massachusetts for the summer. With her siblings in tow, Franny uncovers family history and secrets that will chart the course for all three children’s lives. Aunt Isabella teaches Franny handed down family recipes; Jet learns how to help the town’s people who stop by for advice and cures; Vincent discovers just how irresistible he can be to women and the consequences of it. All three are given free range to explore and strengthen their unique powers. They even meet a cousin that will come in and out of their lives as they get older.

When the summer comes to a close, the Owens children happily return to New York City. A tragic turn of events costs the children their parents, their home, and almost one of their lives. On their own during the 1960’s, a time when the country was changing, Franny, Jet, and Vincent leave their childhood home behind and have to find a new home in another part of NYC. War is not only tearing a country apart, but will rip the Owens children apart as well. Each will have to learn to sacrifice and to take life in stride.

Try as they may, each of the siblings tries to avoid love at all costs, but they are all destined to run into it eventually. Will they be able to break the curse, or even outsmart it?

The Rules of Magic is a flawless and endearing book that I found difficult to put down. Alice Hoffman’s characters are well-developed, easy to like, and full of personality. The storyline for each of the siblings does not get boring or slow at any point in the book. Hoffman paints clear pictures of each setting, allowing the reader to visualize themselves with the Owens children in Massachusetts and in NYC. Even at that tragic scene outside the Plaza Hotel. This book makes me want to read Practical Magic over again, and other Hoffman books as well!

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