The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic 0) by Alice Hoffman

I confess I wish I had Alice Hoffman’s way with words so that I could review this book in a way which it deserves.  Perhaps I could seek a charm to improve my ability to conjure the best things to say to entice you to pick this up.  As it is, well, I’ll have to make do and just gush profusely at every opportunity because as much as I expected to love this book, having read a good few books by this author previously, this still exceeded my expectations in every way.

Beautifully written, this story has a light, almost ethereal touch.  It tells the story of three children born into a family with a curse and looks at the ways in which they try to overcome the limitations they face and at the same time come to terms with who they really are.  Strong character focus is key to the story.  The characters are wonderfully developed and I simply couldn’t help falling in love with them a little (okay a lot).  Hoffman sketches them in an easy way, making it appear effortless, which is far from the truth.  The story builds with a sense of ‘impending doom’ and the fact that the characters are so enjoyable to read about just helps to increase the sense of foreboding that you feel as you read on.  On top of that this is well paced and enchanting.  There’s a whimsical feel to it all particularly in terms of the times and places depicted.  Those are my immediate feelings, now for a little bit more.

In terms of plot.  Hundreds of years ago the Owens family were cursed.  The history of why and how will be explored in good time but in the meantime this is a look at one particular branch of the Owen’s family tree.  Susanna Owens removed her three children to New York, where she lives with her husband, many years ago.  Susanna is desperate for them to enjoy a regular childhood, she knows they’re different and realises how dangerous this can be.  Susanna has many strict rules about what the children can and can’t do but no matter how much she exerts her authority their own natures will eventually surface.  Franny, Jet and Vincent are the three children and their stories make for wonderful reading as we watch them struggle with their abilities, their differences and their desires.  It’s difficult to go into great depth really.  This isn’t a story that can easily be elaborated upon as ultimately it’s a coming of age tale.  Each of the characters has their own individual storyline, although they’re all intertwined, but what comes across really strongly is the strength of feeling that they share as a family and this is something that holds strong throughout.

The three of them finally begin to make their own voyages of discovery when they first visit their aunt in Massachusetts.  The people in the village where Aunt Isabelle lives believe the stories of witchcraft and fear the Owen’s family, at the same time they all, from time to time, pay visits to the family home in search of more than tea and sympathy As soon as the three arrive things start to fall into place.  Vincent is the first to embrace who he really is with the two sisters following at their own reluctant pace until they finally reveal the extent of their own family gifts and discover the truth behind the family curse.

Now, I realise I’ve probably made this all sound very tame and I’m certainly not going to pretend this is an action packed, war filled adventure because it isn’t.  It’s a magical tale, written with style and compelling to read.  I cold barely put this down and must have read it in two days at the most, even though I was at the same time desperate for it not to finish.

For information, The Rules of Magic is a prequel to Practical Magic.  I think I can confidently say that you could read this without having read the earlier book – in fact, if you haven’t read Practical Magic you could pick it up when you finish this one.

I loved this, it has such incredible heart and soul,  The characters are wonderful and I adore stories about witchcraft.  I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.





19 Responses to “The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic 0) by Alice Hoffman”

  1. Tammy

    I know just what you mean! I’m about half way through this book, and I’ve lost track of the times it’s brought tears to my eyes, and also how many beautiful passages I’ve highlighted. It makes me want to do an Alice Hoffman read-a-thon and catch up with everything I’ve missed!♥️♥️♥️

    • @lynnsbooks

      I know – this was so good. Just checked out your review which was excellent.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Carmen

    Great review, Lynn! You did the book justice without gushing too much. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks – I tried to show restraint. Not always easy when I love a particular author.
      Lynn 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    No, it doesn’t sound tame at all, on the contrary I think I can perceive great potential for intensity in this story, and I’m certain it’s the kind of novel that makes it hard to come up for air… Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Definitely on both counts. I think you would love this, it packs a great emotional impact.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    I’m really looking forward to the release of this one. I loved Practical Magic (the book) and didn’t think the movie was too bad either. Great review – now I want it even more!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope you love it – I thought it was excellent.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Ah, beautifully written sounds wonderful 🙂 I need to give this one a try

  6. Jennifer | Book Den

    I’ve never read Practical Magic. I loved the movie – I’m not sure how different they are. I was wondering if this one could be read first. I think I may just pick this one up.

    • @lynnsbooks

      You can definitely pick this one up without having read Practical Magic. It’s the story of the aunts (and their brother) from the film.

  7. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    One day I’ll have to try one of her books! I know you and Tammy both think highly of her writing, and as far as I’m concerned that’s reason enough for me 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I loved this and if you did decide to give her a chance it can be read without reading Practical Magic.
      Lynn 😀

  8. jessicabookworm

    You’ve reminded me, I really must read something by Alice Hoffman – I’ve been meaning to read Practical Magic for like … forever!!

    • @lynnsbooks

      This one was so good – an excellent read and you don’t have to have read Practical Magic before picking up.
      Lynn 😀

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    […] The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman […]

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    […] The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman – ‘For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.’ A prequel to Practical Magic. […]

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    […] words and is the master of magical realism.  Most recently the prelude to Practical Magic – The Rules of Magic which was, well, […]

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