Book Review: The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

“We don’t really know what we’re dealing with,” she murmured to her brother. “But it’s something, isn’t it?” Vincent said. “Something inside of us. I know our mother wants us to pretend we’re like everyone else, but you know that we’re not.”

In the long-awaiting prequel to Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman tells the story of another Owens family—three siblings Franny, Vincent and Jet—as they discover the magic in their family line and the curse that settles over them like dust, suffocating their ability to love another.

Set in the 1960s, The Rules of Magic is a vibrant and rich portrayal of the coming-of-age of three adolescents set against the backdrop of war and tragedy with a heavy dose of magical discovery. Sent to live with their Aunt Isabelle one summer, the three Owens siblings quickly begin to learn they aren’t like other children their age. Relieved of the constraints of their household and the insistence of their mother, Susanna, to squelch their magical ability, Franny, Vincent and Jet are able to hone their craft and become the witches and wizards they were meant to be.

However, along with this exceptional ability comes a revelation that changes their lives forever: a curse has been set on the Owens family that will prohibit them from romantic love. Hormonally driven and reckless as most adolescents are, the three siblings challenge this directive with varying degrees of severity and success.

“She’s just a young girl who happened to have fallen in love,” she said to the cousin who denied their shared family lineage. “In what world is that a curse?”

What follows is a perilous journey of life, balancing both the consequences of the curse and the demands of their magical heritage. The Owens siblings embody the struggles of adolescence and young adulthood set against the supernatural element of their upbringing. As they grow, they become fully formed witched and wizards, better suited to confront the limitations of their romantic life. Can they discover the key to overcoming the Owens family curse?

Delightfully magical and achingly real, The Rules of Magic sets the perfect stage for the events of Practical Magic, adding depth and richness to the Owens family story.

Do as you will but harm no one.

What you give will be returned to you threefold

Fall in love whenever you can.

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A review copy of this title was provided by Simon and Schuster.

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