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The Rules of Magic
Cover of The Rules of Magic
The Rules of Magic
A Novel
An instant New York Times bestseller and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick from beloved author Alice Hoffman—the spellbinding prequel to 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. Yet, the 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 memorable aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.

Alice Hoffman delivers "fairy-tale promise with real-life struggle" (The New York Times Book Review) in a story how the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is "irresistible...the kind of book you race through, then pause at the last forty pages, savoring your final moments with the characters" (USA TODAY, 4/4 stars).
An instant New York Times bestseller and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick from beloved author Alice Hoffman—the spellbinding prequel to 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. Yet, the 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 memorable aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.

Alice Hoffman delivers "fairy-tale promise with real-life struggle" (The New York Times Book Review) in a story how the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is "irresistible...the kind of book you race through, then pause at the last forty pages, savoring your final moments with the characters" (USA TODAY, 4/4 stars).
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About the Author-
  • Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The Rules of Magic, The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah's Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. She lives near Boston.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2017

    Set in New York just before the Sixties started to swing, this new novel gives backstory to Hoffman's beloved Practical Magic, published in 1995. Love is always a problem for the Owens women, cursed since 1620, and Susanna Owens warns her three children to avoid moonlight, red shoes, and especially romance. But the children have different ideas. With an eight-city tour.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 21, 2017
    Hoffman delights in this prequel to Practical Magic, as three siblings discover both the power and curse of their magic. Susanna Owens fled her home in Massachusetts and settled in New York, where she marries and, with her husband, raises their three children, Franny, Jet, and Vincent. Susanna has done her best to keep them away from the powers of magic by forbidding such things as wearing black and using Ouija boards. But the children can’t deny their special abilities to perform such feats as communicating with animals and reading others’ thoughts. As they continue to grow older in the rapidly changing world of the late 1950s, the children’s curiosity about their heritage is rewarded when they are invited to visit their Aunt Isabelle in Massachusetts. There, the children hone their magical skills and discover that an ancestor had cursed them so that disaster would befall anyone who fell in love with them. The three siblings struggle with the curse, sometimes pushing away their beloveds and at other times succumbing to the allure of love only to see it end tragically. Hoffman’s novel is a coming-of-age tale replete with magic and historical references 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. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM Partners.

  • Kirkus

    August 15, 2017
    The Owens sisters are back--not in their previous guise as elderly aunties casting spells in Hoffman's occult romance Practical Magic (1995), but as fledgling witches in the New York City captured in Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids.In that magical, mystical milieu, Franny and Bridget are joined by a new character: their foxy younger brother, Vincent, whose "unearthly" charm sends grown women in search of love potions. Heading into the summer of 1960, the three Owens siblings are ever more conscious of their family's quirkiness--and not just the incidents of levitation and gift for reading each other's thoughts while traipsing home to their parents' funky Manhattan town house. The instant Franny turns 17, they are all shipped off to spend the summer with their mother's aunt in Massachusetts. Isabelle Owens might enlist them for esoteric projects like making black soap or picking herbs to cure a neighbor's jealousy, but she at least offers respite from their fretful mother's strict rules against going shoeless, bringing home stray birds, wandering into Greenwich Village, or falling in love. In short order, the siblings meet a know-it-all Boston cousin, April, who brings them up to speed on the curse set in motion by their Salem-witch ancestor, Maria Owens. It spells certain death for males who attempt to woo an Owens woman. Naturally this knowledge does not deter the current generation from circumventing the rule--Bridget most passionately, Franny most rationally, and Vincent most recklessly (believing his gender may protect him). In time, the sisters ignore their mother's plea and move to Greenwich Village, setting up an apothecary, while their rock-star brother, who glimpsed his future in Isabelle's nifty three-way mirror, breaks hearts like there's no tomorrow. 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.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2018

    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

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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