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The Rules of Magic: A Novel (The Practical Magic Series) Hardcover – October 10, 2017
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From School Library Journal
The gray-eyed Owens children have always been strange, and not just because they like black clothing and are oddly buoyant. Frances, the oldest, can communicate with birds; shy and beautiful middle sibling Bridget (nicknamed Jet for her black hair) can read minds; and the youngest, Vincent, is so winsome and irresistible that his obstetric nurse attempted to kidnap him. Growing up in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s, the children never fit in, until they visit Aunt Isabelle in Massachusetts and discover they are bloodline witches. Full of gifts and potential, the siblings are cursed with knowing too much about fate and the future. Though this coming-of-age tale is a prequel to Hoffman's Practical Magic, readers need not have read the earlier book—but they'll eagerly seek out the author's other work. The clever Owenses handle major crises such as the Vietnam War, first loves, and the death of family members, all while learning how to cope with their special abilities in a world that doesn't always value those who are different. Fans of magical realism and lyrical novels, such as Leslye Walton's The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender and Moïra Fowley-Doyle's The Accident Season, will appreciate Hoffman's descriptive and succinct way with words. VERDICT Give to sophisticated teens who enjoy a bit of magic in their love stories.—Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL
PRAISE FOR THE RULES OF MAGIC BY ALICE HOFFMAN
**INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER**
**OFFICIAL REESE WITHERSPOON BOOK CLUB PICK**
BEST FALL BOOKS SELECTION BY * PUBLISHERS WEEKLY * NEW YORK POST * POPSUGAR *
“Hoffman has conjured up another irresistible novel in The Rules of Magic. This is the kind of book you race through, then pause at the last 40 pages, savoring your final moments with the characters.”—USA Today (4/4 Stars)
“[T]his is a novel that begins with the words, ‘Once upon a time,’ and its strength is a Hoffman hallmark: the commingling of fairy-tale promise with real-life struggle. The Owens children can’t escape who they are. Like the rest of us, they have to figure out the best way to put their powers to use.”—New York Times Book Review
“In this prequel to Practical Magic, Hoffman, a master of magical realism, draws us back into the spellbinding universe of the Owens family with gorgeous prose set against a backdrop of vivid imagery.”—Marie Claire
“The story unfolds in romantic and magical ways against the backdrop of 1960s, with the Stonewall riot, LSD in Central Park, Bob Dylan and Vietnam all making appearances. Hoffman will keep you guessing until the very end of the book how the Practical Magic generation fits in, a clever, heartbreaking finale.” —Newsday
"Hoffman delights in this prequel to Practical Magic as three siblings discover both the power and curse of their magic. Hoffman’s novel is a coming-of-age tale replete with magic and historical reference to the early witch trials. The spellbinding story, focusing on the strength of family bonds through joy and sorrow, will appeal to a broad range of readers. Fans of Practical Magic will be bewitched.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Hoffman weaves a spell….Readers who enjoy a little magic mixed in with their love stories…will relish this book.” —Library Journal
"It’s clear why Hoffman is a favorite for fantasy readers: She creates interesting mythologies; she’s able to weave magic into the modern world; and she alludes to the magical properties of herbs and everyday items without overexplaining them and overcomplicating her narratives."—Bookpage
"Reading [The Rules of Magic] was like being caught in a current, floating along with a river's twists and turns, glimpsing familiarity and difference in varied measure before tumbling into something like the sea. I kept reading, not because I wanted to reach the end, but because I wanted to dwell in the honey-light of Hoffman's words. I wanted to hold these characters' hands... Hoffman's prose is as tender, dreamy and sweet as ever, laced with the sting of vinegar and broken glass."—NPR Books
“Just in time for Halloween, Alice Hoffman brings us back to the world of the Owens family, whom we first met in Practical Magic. It's a world where magic exists and love is a curse. The Rules of Magic will transport you. An utter delight.”—Popsugar (Best 2017 Fall Books)
"[The Rules of Magic is] a novel readers didn’t know they were waiting for until it arrived." —Bustle
"Reading an Alice Hoffman book is like falling into a deep dream where senses are heightened and love reigns supreme. The Rules of Magic is no exception—as I tumbled into the story of three siblings desperate for and cursed by love, I never wanted to awaken."—Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things
"No one's more confident or entertaining than Hoffman at putting across characters willing to tempt fate for true love. Real events like the Vietnam draft and Stonewall uprising enter the characters' family history as well as a stunning plot twist—delivering everything fans of a much-loved book could hope for in a prequel."—Kirkus Reviews
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It’s a compelling story, with strong writing and fascinating characters. I couldn’t put it down. I liked it much more than Practical Magic, which I found rather depressing. (Oddly, I loved the movie, and how often can someone say they liked the movie more than the book!) This book is about love and joys and sorrows, but I would never call it depressing. I am going to go back and re-read Practical Magic; I'm sure I will see it differently now.
I mentioned Practical Magic several times, but this book stands alone. It is not necessary to know anything about Practical Magic to enjoy it.
The Rules of Magic is up there with the best of Alice Hoffman.
The book is about the three Owens children: Franny, Jet, and Vincent, as they grapple with the family curse, which began in 1620 with Maria Owens, who dared to fall in love.
"Beware of love," Maria Owens had written on the first page of her journal. "Know that for our family, love is a curse."
But of course, who wants to listen to the ramblings of a woman who has been dead for 350 plus years?
Growing up, the three did their best to break all the rules assigned to them by their mother, with the exception of this hard and steadfast rule. After a summer in Massachusetts with their Aunt Isabelle, the three teenagers head back to New York City to navigate their separate journeys, stumbling on their own forms of love. This is where the story became bogged down for me. There was too much indecision for me, too much going back and forth about doing the right thing, etc.
Whether the character chose courage or caution, nothing seemed to work out for him or her, anyway. It was rather depressing that they couldn't have some happiness without it being taken away. The pacing of the novel was also too slow for my taste, because there was too much emphasis on the day-to-day routine, which was kind of boring. Nothing really happens in those pages for it to be chronicled. I couldn't connect with the characters, which made reading it harder as well.
I found myself skimming to get to the end. It was rather underwhelming.
The Owens children, Franny, Jet and Vincent Owen believe they are cursed to never be in love: and that if they do love another, their chosen loved ones would meet a doomed fate. They learn in their early teens that they are witches, a fact that their parents tried to shield them from. Each child leads a depressing life: whether if choosing courage or choosing caution, nothing seems to work in their favor.
The narrator, Marin Ireland, did a good job but I just couldn't really get into the story. There are numerous plot lines and I feel some of the characters come and go without much development. As the depressing events keep happening, I kept listening for when the story would turn around...I never got that.
Maybe I would have had a different experience if I read the book versus an audiobook. It could have been the tone of the narrator, but I have a feeling I may have felt the same (although maybe not as strongly).
If I didn't feel the need to 'read' most stories all the way through, it would have been a DNF for me: it came really close. Towards the end I felt it became background noise for me and I couldn't wait for it to finish. I did hope my viewpoint would change with a great ending but nothing miraculous really happened.
Side note: I never saw Practical Magic and don't think I needed too as the story is the Prequel.