The Rules of Magic
by Alice Hoffman



From beloved author Alice Hoffman comes the spellbinding prequel to her bestseller, Practical Magic .

Find your magic

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More About The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman


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.

  • ISBN-13: 9781501137471
  • ISBN-10: 1501137476
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: October 2017
  • Page Count: 384
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

Series: Practical Magic #1

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Historical - General
Books > Fiction > Occult & Supernatural

BookPage Reviews

Summer of love and magic

In Alice Hoffman’s 1995 novel, Practical Magic, sisters Sally and Gillian share a strong sibling bond and a complicated relationship with magic. Their story is rooted in family history and a legend that includes witchcraft, feuds and rejection dating back 200 years.

In The Rules of Magic, Hoffman’s prequel to Practical Magic, we learn about the family’s more recent history: the backstory of Aunt Frances and Aunt Jet, Sally and Gillian’s mysterious guardians. Young Franny is redheaded and feisty; she loves science and looks for logical explanations for everything, even their bizarre family traits that can’t be explained. Bridget, called Jet, is shy and so beautiful that boys are literally willing to die to be with her. Their brother, Vincent, is a mysterious heartbreaker, tormented by visions of the future and carrying more secrets than his sisters can imagine. The three siblings are tied together by blood, magic and a curse that dooms any romantic partner they ever love.

Their story is set in the 1960s, and Hoffman weaves cultural and historical references into the novel. It’s the summer solstice meets the “Summer of Love”; spells and potions and superstition rub elbows with riots and music festivals and bellbottoms. Hoffman handles this commingling beautifully, and the fact that her fantasy is grounded in reality makes it feel grittier and more tangible.

The Rules of Magic fills in the blanks for Practical Magic fans, but it works perfectly as a standalone as well. 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.

The Rules of Magic is ostensibly about three family members who find all their love stories star-crossed. But the devotion that draws them together as a family forms a bond that proves indestructible and may ultimately be the key to finally breaking the curse that’s haunted their family for generations.


This article was originally published in the October 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews