Apparently writing about magic is a lot like riding a bicycle. Despite forays into historical fiction and contemporary drama of the non-magical variety, Hoffman can still whip up magical realism with the best of them, as she does in this brand-new prequel to the classic Practical Magic, in which the aunts Franny and Jet grow up in 1960s Manhattan with their rule-flaunting younger brother. Despite warnings to not fall in love, obsession is a hard thing to resist, and fate has its way. But the trip to destiny is a lot of fun, filled with non-racy passion and a whole lot of angst, making The Rules of Magic a good YA crossover. I know there are other authors who mine this territory, but Hoffman’s an original, and every so often, she throws out a turn of phrase that floors me. As a bonus, there’s a shout-out to children’s writer Edward Eager, which alone makes any work of fiction sigh-worthy.— Daniel Goldin
This prequel to Practical Magic takes us through the early lives of Franny and Jet, the great aunts of Sally and Gillian. They also have a younger brother, Vincent, who is handsome and reckless, and much loved by his sisters. They spend their time trying to avoid the family curse that warns them not to fall in love. or something tragic will befall the object of that love. When their parents die while trying to prevent Jet from running away with her lover, Franny is left in charge of the family. She has her own doomed love affair, and tries to keep her beloved safe by staying away from him. Although the Owens family differs from most in their magical abilities, they find that they are much the same when it comes to the ordinary aspects of life - being drafted, getting sick, and losing those they love to disease. This delightful and magical tale will delight those who are longtime fans of Alice Hoffman, as well as those new readers discovering her for the first time.— Sharon K. Nagel
In this brilliant prequel to Hoffman's Practical Magic, we are introduced to Franny and Jet Owens, as well as their brother Vincent, who is living a life that is not indicative of his true nature. We find the Owens clan in the summer of 1960 being shipped off to visit their aunt Isabelle Owens. She is a harbinger of change in the lives of the Owens children. While their mother has so many strict rules against going shoeless, bringing home stray birds, wandering into Greenwich Village, or falling in love, in their aunt's company the Owens children are allowed to access their natural magic, to begin to explore the true essence of family and what it is to be connected to the universe and everyone in it.
We witness the sisters eventually ignoring their fretting mother's warnings by setting up an apothecary shop in Greenwich Village. Meanwhile, their rock-star brother, who has the natural ability to send love-struck female fans into a frenzy, who despite having glimpsed his future in Isabelle’s three-way mirror, falls in love with a man he considers his sun and moon. We do witness the events surrounding the Vietnam War, as well as the Stonewall uprising as part of the Owens family history. And the subsequent choices that are made by each of the main character because of the war lead us to ask what it means to lose the ability to exercise free will in the face of government mandates. There are many questions inherent in the narrative that inspired me, not the least of which being, “What would you sacrifice to freely live alongside the one human being who makes you feel truly loved?”— Scott Espinoza
**INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER** **REESE WITHERSPOON BOOK CLUB PICK** From beloved author Alice Hoffman comes the spellbinding prequel to her bestseller, Practical Magic. 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. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is a story about the power of love reminding us that the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself.