Monday, August 14, 2017

Book Review: "The Rules of Magic" by Alice Hoffman

How much did I love this book? I cannot even count the ways.

Franny, Bridget (Jet), and Vincent Owens are siblings growing up in New York City in the late 1950s and early 1960s, raised by no-nonsense parents who discourage their children from exploring their uniqueness. Their mother Susanna knows that her children are different—headstrong Franny can talk to birds, beautiful Jet can read people's thoughts, and charismatic Vincent has been charming people to him since birth, and he uses that to his advantage.

Susanna has many rules she demands her children follow—no walking in the moonlight, no books about magic, no candles, no crows, and most importantly, never fall in love. The Owens family has been cursed since 1620, when their ancestor, Maria Owens, who was accused of witchcraft after loving the wrong man, predicted ruin for anyone in her lineage that dared fall in love. Many bore the scars of that curse, including Susanna herself.

While the children know they are different, at first only Vincent wants to understand what they really are. But after spending the summer at their feisty Aunt Isabelle's house, they are urged to embrace their heritage and their differences, rather than hide who they are and what they can do. Living in the small Massachusetts town where everyone looks askance at the Owens family, believing the rumors of witchcraft and evil to be true, they learn to have pride in who they are, to be bold and unafraid of those who disapprove.

It is in Massachusetts where each of the children come face to face with understanding the curse that plagues their family, and they try to test its limits. As they grow into adulthood, they must wrestle with the dilemma of embracing their identity and keeping love at bay, or risking it all for the magic and fire that love can bring? And what will that risk entail?

The Rules of Magic is utterly compelling, exquisitely told, and really just so fantastic. It's a story of family, identity, self-discovery, embracing your fears, love, loss, and, of course, magic. These characters are so affecting and fascinating, and I could have read a book about each of them. Alice Hoffman is once again at the top of her storytelling form with this book, which has so many beautiful, memorable, touching moments which I'd rather let unfold for you than tell you about.

While this book is a prequel to Hoffman's fantastic Practical Magic, don't worry if you've never read it or, like me, don't really remember it. (It was published in 1995, so don't feel bad.) You absolutely can read this one without any knowledge of the Owens family and enjoy it immensely. And if you've never read Alice Hoffman before, you're in for a treat.

I'm so sad this is over!!

NetGalley and Simon & Schuster provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

No comments:

Post a Comment