Book Review, Books Read in 2017, Magical Realism

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman: A Book Review

The Rules of Magic

Title: The Rules of Magic
Author: Alice Hoffman
Published: October 10, 2017
Genre: Fiction/Magical Realism
Obtained: Public Library

Synopsis (shortened from book): 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 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.

The Rules of Magic is both a fairy tale and a practical story of real life, as lyrical as it is matter-of-fact. If you belong to the Owens family, desire is everywhere, but so are the dangers of human entanglements. 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. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, here is a story about the power of love. Told in dreamy prose, with unforgettable characters and a world that is rife with enchantment, The Rules of Magic reminds us that the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself.

Note: Usually I write my own synopses as I think it adds something special, but no synopsis I wrote gave the story justice.

Amazon | Goodreads


My Thoughts

If you read only one book a year, I recommend this book as a top contender. I stayed up till almost 1AM to finish it, and I’m so glad I did! The Rules of Magic is everything that I love about Fall. There are literally no words to express how this novel made me feel in the end.

We get insights into the early lives of Franny and Jet, the two aunts featured in Practical Magic, and their younger brother Vincent, one of the first male Owens born in the family line. They live in New York City during the 1960s, and from their mother are given the rules of magic at an early age. Rather than follow them, they end up breaking them, choosing courage over caution at every turn.

Everything about their stories makes me sad, but feeling inspired at the same time. I don’t want to say it’s a depressing novel, but they have been through so much in their lives that it’s difficult not to be sad for them. But they don’t let their circumstances define them. Ever. And that makes me hopeful.

The Connection between Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic

Although I don’t think it’s NECESSARY to read Practical Magic first, it really heightened my reading experience of The Rules of Magic. There is so much connection between these two separate stories. For those that don’t know, this is a prequel to Practical Magic, a story about the Aunts and how they grew up into who they are.

We get a deeper insight into their family history, dating back to the 1600s to Maria Owens. We also get a better understanding of the Owens family curse and what brought it about. Both books had the same feel to them, which I loved. I ESPECIALLY loved the descriptions of different scents in The Rules of Magic. Every time Alice Hoffman wanted to express a certain feeling or emotion from a character, she described scents. Scents of New York City, scents of a garden, of specific flowers and herbs. These descriptions made my reading experience even greater, as I could imagine smelling what the characters were smelling in each scene.


Seriously, guys. Pick up this book. It was definitely worth the money spent. Although I borrowed mine from the library, I plan on picking up my own copy because I loved it that much. Like I’ve mentioned before, I love reading multi-generation sagas about family and history, and this novel did NOT disappoint in that aspect. Reading about the Aunts of Practical Magic and how their experiences in their lives shaped who they would eventually become seriously made me an emotional wreck.

This isn’t just a story about magic and witches. It’s a story about love and loss, and whether or not we have the courage to live our lives despite our fears.



5 Star Rating

An Absolute Favorite!!

Memorable Quote: “Know that the only remedy for love is to love more.”

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