The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman


“For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in the 1600s, when Maria Owens was accused of witchery for loving the wrong man. Hundreds of years later, in 1960s New York City at the cusp of an ever-changing world, 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 the Owens children never adhere to rules, desperate to uncover who they really are.”

-Synopsis from back over


Cover from StoryGraph

The Rules of Magic is an utterly enchanting story that far exceeded my expectations. While it is said to be a prequel to Practical Magic, I prefer to read books in order of publication so I read Practical Magic before reading this. However, I think you could easily read this without having read anything in this series yet.

The lives of Franny, Jet, and Vincent are nothing short of spellbinding. The story follows the three children in the late 1950s when they first step foot in the magical home of their Aunt Isabelle Owens, through their youth and young adulthood as they navigate their lives as unique, magical individuals.

As the oldest, Franny feels a strong desire to protect her siblings and believes that in some ways it will mean she has to give up having her own life in order to do so. She is perhaps the most skeptical about Aunt Isabelle, at least at first.

“After listening in, Franny had decided that magic was not so very far from science. Both endeavors searched for meaning where there was none, light in the darkness, answers to questions too difficult for mortals to comprehend. Aunt Isabelle knew her niece was there on the stairs taking notes, but said nothing. She had a special fondness for Franny. They were alike in more ways than Franny would care to know.”

from The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Jet experiences tragedy early in her life and must spend years overcoming it in order to stay true to herself. Vincent’s story was particularly moving and unforgettable. I do not want to reveal too much other than to say he is truly an incredible, unforgettable character. Only Alice Hoffman can write such beautifully sad stories that still leave you with a feeling of hopefulness.

I loved this book and my time spent reading it. Towards the end, I didn’t want it to end so I put off reading the last fifty or so pages until I would have a good amount of time to really soak in the ending. After reading Practical Magic and being very curious about Sally and Gillian’s Aunt Franny and Aunt Jet, I can tell you this book was extremely satisfying and brought such a richness to both characters and this magical world as a whole.

I look forward to reading the rest of the series this Fall.

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