BOOK TITLE: The Rules of Magic
BOOK AUTHOR: Alice Hoffman
October 10th 2017
GENRES: Literary Fiction, Magical Realism
CHECK IT OUT AT: Goodreads
BUY IT: Buy on Amazon
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.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Sigh (of deep contentment).
I needed this book.
The Rules of Magic, Alice Hoffman’s revisit to the Owens family (or introduction to them, since Practical Magic was released more than 30 years ago–EEK!) is perfectly timed, at least for me. I needed to reacquaint myself with the clan, and October is the without-a-doubt, exact, ideal, and precise time for a story of a witchy family.
–And, a little movie aside for me, every time I picked up The Rules of Magic to read I heard Faith Hill singing “This Kiss.” It was such a strong, romantic scene in the movie, with that song in the background, that the Owens women and “This Kiss” go hand in hand, even if The Rules of Magic is not about Gillian and Sally.
Here’s the scene, in case you’re unfamiliar or just miss it (not the best video quality, but the movie is a few years old):
Okay, back to the book.
The Rules of Magic is perfect storytelling, taking readers back to a different time, showing us the changes in the world while keeping us very involved in the lives of Franny, Jet, and Vincent. All three vow to never fall in love, but each finds love in their own time and in their own way. Readers watch them grow and learn, living through the heartbreak and heartaches, all of which are exacerbated by their magic abilities and the family curse.
Yes, the three Owens followed in The Rules of Magic are witches, but a lot of what happens to them is just the magic of ordinary life. Growing up. Falling in love. Avoiding love. Experiencing loss. Rebelling against family rules and absolutes in order to create a world that’s wholly theirs. And finally, circling back to family and knowing what is important after all the adventures of youth.
After about three quarters of the book I started thinking that not much had happened, other than ordinary (although magical) life. But I couldn’t put the book down. And then, just a little a few pages later, I found myself crying. CRYING! (It’s not a surprise I was crying. I’m a crier. But it was surprising that I was crying when I was just thinking that nothing had happened). These characters got right under my skin and worked their way into my heart.
And it is a very character driven novel. Through these characters, Hoffman shows us life is magical, whether we have magic or not. Rather than telling, she uses Franny, Jet, and Vincent to SHOW readers all the ups and downs of human existence — some brought to us by our own doing, others by fate and chance.
If you’ve never read Practical Magic, do not fret. Both books stand very much alone. The Rules of Magic is the story of three siblings, two of whom grow up to be the aunts in Practical Magic, and it does explain how they came to raise Gillian and Sally. At best I would say these books are related. Reading one is not contingent on reading the other, although it does add some enhancement!
I highly recommend The Rules of Magic. It’s a book that will leave you with a smile and a sigh of pure contentment.