The Rules of Magic – Alice Hoffman

The Rules of Magic

The Rules of Magic is the prequel to Practical Magic, a movie I am head over heels in love with. It became part of my life many years go when I watched it with my mum and since then it has been my go to movie when I needed a pick me up. It wasn’t until the past few years I realised this movie was actually based on a book of the same name by Alice Hoffman and of course I needed to read it. I have to admit the book and movie are different in some aspects but the characters ring true, in my head I see these two formats as two separate identities but with the same beloved characters in each plot.

When The Rules of Magic was first spoken of I knew I needed to read it so I pre-ordered it and eagerly awaited it’s arrival. I didn’t know at the time that it would be a prequel centred on the Aunts rather than Sally and Gillian Owens and when it arrived I was a tad disappointed because I was dying to know what directions the sisters lives went in at the end of Practical Magic however I knew this book needed a chance. Of course I am now the one swallowing my own words because The Rules of Magic was a fantastic read, I loved learning more about Franny and Jet, how their lives got to where they are in Practical Magic and their magical quirks. It was made much better for me as the majority of the book was set in New York, a city I love and of course contains its own magic.

This book does contain magic, powers and the touches that we all love and know in Practical Magic but I think what won me over was the relationship aspect of the plot. The sisters and their brother Vincent tragically lose their parents and from then have to stick together to get through everything life throws at them. Love, loss and learning are massive parts of the book, anyone that has read Practical Magic will know of the Owen’s curse that anyone an Owen’s fall in love with will die and sure enough it plays a part in this book too.

We are introduced to Franny, Jet and Vincent’s great Aunt Isabelle in the plot too and she is a really interesting character, someone that is intriguing, intelligent and unpredictable. She invites the children to their house and helps them to understand their abilities, something their mother has neglected in hopes to avoid a future where magic plays no part. However Aunt Isabelle makes a point of getting to know the children and focusing on their futures and abilities.

The setting of this book plays a key part with the War in Vietnam being a constant background, the conscription of men and how it tears apart relationships once again. Jumping from New York, Paris, Massachusetts and California, Franny, Jet and Vincent all grow in life and experience while the reader is transported to wonderful locations in the 60s and 70s.

Finally two aspects of the novel that I enjoyed was getting to meet more of the Owen’s family. April in particular is a feisty, young, confident cousin who appears at different times in the novel, each time bringing something new to the plot. She is fun and unpredictable, leaving the plot with an air of mystery when she does appear, never knowing what she is about to bring with her. Last is the writing, I cannot explain how beautiful the writing is in this novel, it’s poetic and descriptive and reads almost like a song. When I was reading this book I was transported to the setting with the characters and barely took my head of the page. I felt every emotion, feeling and experience with the characters all because of Alice Hoffman’s writing skills, it was a truly immersive read.

I gave The Rules of Magic a 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and if I could have I would have given it more. I was very lucky to have tweeted and received a reply from Alice Hoffman while reading this and I am clinging onto the hope of a Practical Magic sequel, after all she did say ‘maybe’ when I shamelessly asked. Highly recommend this novel and don’t feel pressured to read Practical Magic first, this could be read as a standalone.

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