A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman- Feature and Review


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.



The Rules of MagicThe Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman is a 2017 is a Simon & Schuster publication.

Those eccentric aunts from “Practical Magic”? Just what is their backstory anyway? I was so excited when I heard this book was going to be a prequel to ‘Practical Magic’. Finally, we learn the history behind the infamous curse that plagues the Owens women and discover the legacy behind the love potions and herbs, and the complicated emotions swirling around Frances and Jet.

I usually try to reserve my enthusiasm when a sequel or prequel is released for a popular book or movie, especially with such a lengthy time gap in between, but when one stellar review after another began pouring in for this book, I threw caution to the wind and allowed myself some giddiness.

Still, I was surprised by exactly how much I enjoyed this book. I don’t read much magic realism these days, so from that perspective, this was a nice departure from the psych thrillers, and nonfiction that has somehow begun to dominate my TBR pile recently.

But, it was more than just that. I think I enjoyed the era the story was set in and the historical details surrounding the family drama. Of course, the one word that is impossible to escape while reading this book is that it is ‘magical’- and it truly is!

The dark family saga, the events that lead us to Gillian and Sally’s story and explains the personalities of the Franny and Jet, makes so much sense now.

Is it possible to quell natural magical skills? Is it possible for magic to work without doing harm? Can you really fight love?

This is also a ‘coming of age’ story, filled with angst, nobleness, honor, triumphs and tragedy. But- and this is going to really upset some people, because they wouldn’t be caught dead reading a love story- But, true love is at the center of the book, its very life force, and is at the very heart of everything that transpires. So, those who view romance novels with high disdain- guess what? If you read this book and loved it- you just read a romantic love story, and not just that, but an EPIC love story, with all its conflicts, all its angst, all its heartbreak, its tenderness, anger, and frustration. You loved all the darkness, magic, and all the power- but love is the most potent and powerful magic of all! HA!

Before reading this book, I felt I should touch base with PM, take a quick refresher course, if you will, to try and purge the movie version from my mind, just a little.

I’m glad I did that because this book’s familiarity was like touching base with characters I had grown to care for. However, at times, the tone was so different, I sometimes felt the author had taken liberties with her own book, as strange as that may seem, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Of course, the images from the movie version could have been playing havoc with my impressions, as well. But, sometimes I wondered, ‘Are these the same aunts I read about in PM?”

Either way, this book will completely turn everything you thought you knew on its ear, while casting a spell of enchantment over you, completely sucking you into the Owens family saga, leaving you bewitched and absolutely spellbound.

So, remember- ‘Fall in love whenever you can” and “Know that the only remedy for love is to love more.”





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 and New York. 

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