The Rules of Magic

Back in the summer of 1995, a novel by Alice Hoffman released a book that would change my life. That book was Practical Magic. I had just started exploring my path as a witch and along comes this beautiful tale of sisters, magic, and witchcraft. These witches (the Owens family) are practical, down to earth women, who shared in the same ups and downs as everyday folks. Many of us can relate to the Owens women as outsiders, with a hint of extraordinary in ordinary lives. Practical Magic was a wonderful snapshot of modern-day witches living their lives.

In October of 1998, the film Practical Magic debuted on the big screen. While there were differences in the film and book, the film still provided a positive tale of modern-day witches and everyday life. Once again, we were spellbound with the lives of the Owens and the magic in a visual form. Over the years the film has been my go-to movie when I need a pick me up or a break from a stressful day. I owned the film on VHS and I literally wore it out, on DVD and Blu-Ray, and most recently digitally as well on my laptop. My current cell ringtone is part of the musical score from Practical Magic. As you can tell I am a huge fan.

You can imagine my utter delight when Alice Hoffman announced she would be releasing a prequel novel to Practical Magic called The Rules of Magic. The day Amazon finally listed the book for pre-order, it was an instant purchase for me. The hardest part was waiting for the release. I had reservations prior to the release. After all Practical Magic was my favorite book of all time, I was worried after a couple of decades, the prequel wouldn’t hold the same magic. I was happily disappointed! The Rules of Magic was every bit as delightful and enchanting as Practical Magic.

In The Rules of Magic, we get to follow the journey of the mysterious Aunts and their backstory. Taking place in New York in the 60’s, we follow Jet, Franny and their brother Vincent discovering the truth about who they are. The mother, Susanna Owens hides most of the Owens’ heritage but does set down the rules for her unique children:

  • No walking in the moonlight.
  • No red shoes.
  • No wearing Black.
  • No cats.
  • No crows.
  • No candles.
  • No books about magic.
  • And the most important of all: never, ever fall in love.

A visit to Aunt Isabelle in Massachusetts sets in motion the discovery of family secrets and how to cope with the family curse. At its heart, this is a story about being who you are, staying true to yourself and never giving up on love.

Once again, Hoffman proves there’s a little Witch in all of us.

~review by Amber Barnes

Author: Alice Hoffman
Simon & Schuster, 2017
pp. 366, $27.99

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