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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Rules of Magic

ISBN: 9781501137471

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: 10/10/2017

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars From beloved author Alice Hoffman comes the spellbinding prequel to her bestseller, Practical Magic. 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. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is a story about the power of love reminding us that the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself.


My Review

Alice Hoffman returns following the popular (1995) occult Practical Magic and the Owens family (movie starring Nichole Kidman and Sandra Bullock) with a little history. Rewind to the 1960s and enjoy THE RULES OF MAGIC. A nostalgic coming-of-age love letter. Learning to embrace one’s true self.

Rich in history, NYC, witches, curses, magic, and humor. Catch up with Franny and Jet. and meet little brother Vincent and cousin, April.

“There is no remedy for love but to love more.” — Henry David Thoreau

Susanna Owens had fled Massachusetts, escaped to Paris and married and settled in New York City. She did not want her children to know of their heritage. However, it was clear from the start they were not ordinary children.

She had to set down some hard rules. However, this was not an easy task.

Frances, (Franny) the eldest with pale skin and blood-red hair had the ability to commune with birds. Sulky and suspicious.

Bridget (Jet), a reader with jet black hair, shy and beautiful. Kind-hearted, sensitive, fashionable and similar to her mother.

Vincent was the youngest brother, a gifted musician and charismatic, charming, slim, handsome, and often misbehaved.

Their dad was a psychiatrist and the sisters were outsiders at school. They wanted to escape their mother’s rules to be themselves. Every year a box of lavender-scented black soap arrives from Massachusetts. Soon they discovered their mom was keeping secrets. Was she a Russian spy?

Their mom was chic and only wanted them to have a normal life. However, when they see a letter from bohemian Aunt Isabelle, the get the idea of spending the summer with her in Massachusetts. They could escape for the summer. No rules!

Once they arrive, they soon learn they can do anything. They are quirky as well as their aunt Isabelle (with all her potions), allowing them to do whatever they please. They could not imagine why they hadn’t spent every summer on Magnolia Street. She could care less about bad behavior, diet, sleeping habits, or rules.

The curse.

However, they soon missed the culture of New York. Isabelle had them that anything whole could be broken and anything broken could be put back together. The curse could be broken.

The sisters ignore their mother’s warnings, and on to Greenwich Village, setting up an apothecary, while their brother, breaks hearts along the way.

They made a vow never to fall in love. Isabelle gave them the advice to not hide from who they are. If they do they will be unhappy.

Their family had always been blamed for everything. However, as the children slowly begin to understand their family secrets and try to escape the family curse, they may learn something.

A captivating blend of magical realism and nostalgia— return to the magical world of the Owens. From witches, spells, curses, and potions. Family, friendship, humor, and the power of love with plenty of magic and love sprinkled on top. A perfect Halloween read. Growing up in the 60’s enjoyed revisiting the past.

A special thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy.

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About the Author

Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston.

Hoffman’s first novel, Property Of, was written at the age of twenty-one, while she was studying at Stanford, and published shortly thereafter by Farrar Straus and Giroux. She credits her mentor, professor and writer Albert J. Guerard, and his wife, the writer Maclin Bocock Guerard, for helping her to publish her first short story in the magazine Fiction. Editor Ted Solotaroff then contacted her to ask if she had a novel, at which point she quickly began to write what was to become Property Of, a section of which was published in Mr. Solotaroff’s magazine, American Review.

Since that remarkable beginning, Alice Hoffman has become one of our most distinguished novelists. She has published over thirty novels, three books of short fiction, and eight books for children and young adults. Her novel, Here on Earth, an Oprah Book Club choice, was a modern reworking of some of the themes of Emily Bronte’s masterpiece Wuthering Heights. Practical Magic was made into a Warner film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman.

Her novel, At Risk, which concerns a family dealing with AIDS, can be found on the reading lists of many universities, colleges and secondary schools. Hoffman’s advance from Local Girls, a collection of inter-related fictions about love and loss on Long Island, was donated to help create the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. Hoffman has written a number of novels for young adults, including Aquamarine, Green Angel, and the New York Time bestseller The Ice Queen. In 2007 Little Brown published the teen novel Incantation, a story about hidden Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, which Publishers Weekly has chosen as one of the best books of the year.

Hoffman’s work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Her novels have received mention as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People Magazine. She has also worked as a screenwriter and is the author of the original screenplay “Independence Day,” a film starring Kathleen Quinlan and Diane Wiest. Her teen novel Aquamarine was made into a film starring Emma Roberts. Her short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, The Los Angeles Times, Architectural Digest, Harvard Review, Ploughshares and other magazines.

Toni Morrison calls The Dovekeepers “.. a major contribution to twenty-first century literature.” The story of the survivors of Masada is considered by many to be Hoffman’s masterpiece. The New York Times bestselling novel was adapted for television in a 2015 miniseries, produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, starring Cote de Pablo of NCIS fame.

Her most recent novels have received many accolades, and are New York Times bestsellers. They include The Museum of Extraordinary Things, The Marriage of Opposites, and Faithful. Her highly anticipated Practical Magic prequel, The Rules of Magic, will be released in Fall 2017. Read More






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