Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Ahhhhh!!  Alice Hoffman returns to the world we first discovered in Practical Magic, the first Alice Hoffman book I ever read. I was so excited to read this and it met my expectations in every way. 

This is a prequel to Practical Magic.  It begins in the 1960's, in New York with the Owens family:  mother Susanna, her husband, and their three children:  Frances, a beautiful young lady with red hair and fair skin; Bridget (Jet), stunningly beautiful with long black hair and grey eyes, and Vincent, the youngest and the first male child to be born to the Owens line. Owens is the name descended from their first ancestor, who arrived in America way back when.  She was  witch.

Susanna tried to run away from her gifts, and forbade her children to do anything that might be construed as magic.  They weren't quite sure why, but as they grew into their teens, it was impossible to deny they each had abilities.  Along with those abilities came a curse: no Owens could love anyone, for it would lead to disaster and death.   

Oh, so much happens in this novel!  Vincent is pulled to dark magic as he wander the streets of New York, playing guitar, hanging out in bars (at 14!), and having a hypnotic pull on pretty much every woman who sees him. He doesn't even have to try, and is pretty unhappy with his life, but doesn't really know why. Both Frances and Jet are slowly discovering a few magical talents they each have, as well.  All on the hush, so their parents don't know. 

 One summer, the three siblings are invited to spend the summer with their Great Aunt Isabelle in Massachusetts.  Actually, it's not an invitation, but a command.  All three end up discovering more about their magical powers and more of the family history--and meet their cousin April in the big old house on Magnolia Street.  The house where the porch light is always on, the gardens are full of mysterious plants, and townspeople come at night to get potions and charms.  

At the novel travels through the 1960's, all three teens struggle to understand the family curse about love; sometimes with disastrous consequences.  It seems they are all heading for unhappy, loveless lives.  Can the curse be broken?  

I so loved this novel.  It is classic Alice Hoffman, and that makes me so happy.  While I absolutely adored The Dovekeepers, my heart always goes back to her tales of magic.  This prequel brings you right up to the day Sally and Gillian, as little girls, come to live at the house on Magnolia Street with Franny and Jet. 

I'm leaving a lot of the details and story for you to discover and enjoy yourself.  There is plenty of heartbreak, love, and turmoil in the journey of the Owens siblings, but it is masterfully written.  It left me very reluctantly finishing the last page.  I may have to go back and reread Practical Magic again.  

I'm sorry to say, but The Rules of Magic won't be published in hardcover until October, 2017 in the United States.  You have a wonderful summer to build up the anticipation of reading this book so appropriately released in October.  A big thank you to Edelweiss for the chance to read this!  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to wait until October.  

Rating: 5/6 for a satisfying prequel to Practical Magic.  Getting to know Franny, Jet, and Vincent and all their trials and heartbreaks makes this one of my favorite reads of 2017.  

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