The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic, #0.2)

by Alice Hoffman

4.18 of 5 stars 11 ratings • 7 reviews • 27 shelved
Book cover for The Rules of Magic

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The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic, #0.2)

by Alice Hoffman

4.18 of 5 stars 11 ratings • 7 reviews • 27 shelved

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.

  • ISBN10 1501137476
  • ISBN13 9781501137471
  • Publish Date 10 October 2017
  • Publish Status Out of Stock
  • Imprint Simon & Schuster
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 384
  • Language English


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Artemis 4 of 5 stars
I really ended up loving this. More to come in ways of a review, but it ended up surprising me!

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Reading adult magical realism is such a change from YA magical realism, even when the characters are the same age (for most the book). I enjoyed Practical Magic and read it a couple times in high school. I have a battered, beat up copy I bought secondhand in eleventh grade that desperately needs replacing. When The Rules of Magic was introduced, I was SO EXCITED. Then my best friend read it and fell completely in love with the story, so even though it stagnated on my TBR, I was excited to read it.

I didn't love this books as much as I wanted to.

Don't get me wrong - it's beautifully written. Hoffman tells three different love stories, and she tells them expertly. She captures the feel of the world Franny, Jet, and Vincent live in without weaving in too much flowery language or dramatic flourishes. Simply put, the writing here is raw and lovely. The story is heartbreaking and beautiful. The end is a bit stiff for my tastes, but I appreciate that she transitioned into meeting the girls from Practical Magic.

Overall, I think people will continue to love this book. It's vibrant and sorrowful. It's just very, very slow. You have to fall in love with the characters, or else this book will be a chore. But Alice Hoffman is a very gifted writer, and you are bound to fall in love with one of the characters, even if you do not love all of them. Franny was my favorite, but I can see people falling in love with both Jet and Vincent as well.

Longtime fans of Hoffman's work will love this book, and new readers will fall for her careful, elegant writing. I think that this book deserves all the hype - I just wished I had gone into it a little more level-headed myself. The witchcraft is subtle and melds right in with the book, and there's no high action. Be prepared for a journey.

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Quirky Cat 4 of 5 stars
I’ve been waiting for another book in the world of Practical Magic for years. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard about The Rules of Magic! It is worth noting/reminding yourself (I know I had to remind myself at least ten times) that the book and the movie for Practical Magic are pretty different. That being said, I feel like this novel tied in better with the movie (though maybe my memories of the book are fading). Also, warning: this book will make you crave watching the movie again.

Warnings first: One of the characters contemplates committing suicide at one point, and while she doesn’t go through with it (thank goodness), her plain is laid out for readers to see. Additionally this book is very heavy with emotions; the Owns curse hasn’t been broken (yet?) so there’s a lot of tragedy in their lives. So while it is a wonderful read, please keep these facts in mind.
This book brought me back to my childhood. Okay, I know that sounds odd, but I loved the book/movie growing up, so diving back into the world transported me back to that time. It was really quite wonderful.
This Owens family is slightly different than the other Owens members we’ve seen; which I feel like is saying something. Susanna Owens has fled from her past, and her family. She’s chosen a committed relationship, but one without love (because of the curse). Together they have three (yes, three) children; Franny (the oldest and the redhead most of us have come to expect), Jet (stunningly beautiful with hair as black as night), and the curveball I wasn’t expecting; Vincent (the youngest, he’s naturally alluring and borderline addictive).
I imagine each reader will find a specific sibling they identify with. Each one has their own distinct personality and their own path in life. They also have their own trials and struggles. I think it is through these struggles that we see just how human each of the characters is.
The Rules of Magic focuses mostly on these three children and what they go through as they make their way through the world. They all start off relatively young, but the novel follows them all the way to when they’re older (and we’ll find that scene oddly familiar, too).
The curse is still in full swing; all three children take their own steps to protect themselves (and the ones they love) from the curse. These attempts have varying levels of success, so be prepared to cry and points (I know I did). Despite how badly they may want to run from who and what they are, they can never deny their true selves, even if that means opening their hearts to the world and risking being hurt.
I absolutely loved the additional details that were revealed around the Owens family history. We already know about Maria Owens, the originator of the family curse. What we didn’t know was who she fell in love with, why and how he hurt her and what happened to her after she placed the curse. Many of these answers are finally granted to us; though I for one would have loved even more details (I’m very greedy like that).
I’m anxious to see if Alice Hoffman will write more novels in this world; I’ll admit it hadn’t occurred to me until I saw this book that she wasn’t done here. Perhaps now she is? But maybe not; one can hope!

For more reviews, check out Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

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The Owens children were strictly told by their mother Susanna: 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. A trip to Massachusetts and their Aunt Isabelle soon have them uncovering family secrets and learning about the dreadful family curse.

Magic, family and sidestepping the rules brought these characters to life. Hoffman made me believe in the curse and the magic.  I love that she filled in the blanks all while delivering an equally compelling story that stands on its own. These characters became more than just Gillian and Sally's aunts.

Family secrets and curses drive the plot, and it was interesting how even within the family some were protected from the secret, and how only knowing half-truths caused issues and pain. Of course, being children, the Owens siblings defied a lot of their momma's rules. Franny the oldest can communicate with birds and did so even when her mother strictly forbade her too. Jet the middle child at first glance appears to the rule follower of the group, so when she does break them, it's enormous and has a ripple effect that impacts them all. Vincent is the baby, and the girls love and dote on him. He is charismatic and often seemed aloof, but Hoffman exposed just how genuinely he feels.

While wowing us with magical realism, she shares a glimpse into the political climate, LGBT, superstitions, small-town politics and embracing your differences. Hoffman has a firm grasp of what it must have been like for the Owens children growing up as outcasts even in their own home. I wept for Vincent, adored Franny and her red boots and loved Jet's passion.

Secondary characters played a significant role in the Owens lives and were fleshed out enough to make their impact feel valid.

Marin Ireland narrated this enchanting tale and did so flawlessly. I enjoyed her natural pace, voices, and ability to enhance the magic Hoffman delivered.

Alice Hoffman pulls the reader in from her beautiful writing to the characters, and I found my time with the Owens well spent.  I would love to see The Rules of Magic made into a film. Now I am off to watch Practical Magic again. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer

Avatar for jesstheaudiobookworm

4.5 ★ Audiobook⎮ I found The Rules of Magic so much more satisfying than Practical Magic. Even when listening to Practical Magic, I was drawn to the characters of Jet and Franny. I’m so glad Hoffman decided to tell their story in more detail.

The historical setting perfectly suited the story. It was wonderful to see Jet and Franny as children and young adults. Even though The Rules of Magic was released after Practical Magic, it’s set several decades before. The story is told in such a way that someone new to the series could just as easily hear The Rules of Magic first, especially if a chronological order is preferred. The Rules of Magic ends by introducing the newest generation of Owens, Sally and Gillian, who go on to become the main characters in Practical Magic.

I’m so glad that I decided to give this prequel a chance. My initial experience with the series left me rather indifferent. I was expecting a stronger paranormal theme and got a “slice of life” instead. But with The Rules of Magic, I knew what to expect and was prepared for it.

In a lot of ways, this came across as historical fiction. It just happened that the family at the center of the cross-generational story has paranormal abilities. But the family was very much the focus of the story. In that respect, it resembled Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches series, but with a slower pace and lighter tone.

Like Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic was a character driven story. The major difference, from my perspective, was that I was already invested in the characters this time. Unlike most other stories featuring paranormal elements, very little of the characters’ of supernatural abilities where within their control. The author wrote them passively. For the most part, the Owens were reacting to things that happened to them, but initiating very little of the action. Because of that, there really didn’t seem to be a plot. It annoyed me in the first book, because I wanted more action, but I was able to appreciate it for what it was in The Rules of Magic.

Alice Hoffman obviously knows that her strength as a writer lies in character development. Kudos to her for capitalizing on that strength. The development of the outside world seemed stronger in this installment as well. There was a better sense of time and of the outside world, which helped track the generational progress of the Owens family and its individual members.

I hope Hoffman continues on with this series. I’m eager to see if she will continue backtracking within the Owens family or chronicle of the lives of younger generations. Either way, I look forward to returning to the Owens characters and Hoffman’s storytelling.

Narration Review: Marin Ireland was an excellent choice to narrate The Rules of Magic. Her appointment as narrator influenced my decision to begin this audiobook. Having someone new perform this installment in the series was the right call. It was my first listening experience with Marin at the helm and I was deeply impressed. Her performance was spot on. She provided excellent character distinction and an all-around pleasant listening experience. I could have listened to Ireland forever. ♣︎

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chymerra 4 of 5 stars
I was a huge fan of Practical Magic….the movie. I did not know that the movie was based on a book until I saw The Rules of Magic on NetGalley and saw under the author’s name “author of Practical Magic“. What I liked even more that it is the prequel to Practical Magic. So, when I go to read that book, I will know the back story behind Franny, Jet, and Vincent.

The book follows 3 children as they grow up as unique individuals. Individuals who have no knowledge of their heritage. Their mother had deliberately kept it from them. She also imposed strange rules with the most important one being “no falling in love“. After a visit to their Aunt Isabelle, the children realize that they have powers that are unique. Franny has an affinity with birds. Jet can read minds. Vincent can charm anyone he meets into doing what he wants….among other things.

The Rules of Magic is women’s fiction with a huge lean on the paranormal and fantasy woven into it. I have read a lot of women’s fiction lately. I will say that it is growing on me. I have read a few books that were poorly written and that turned me off this genre. But, if I keep getting gems like The Rules of Magic, then I will reconsider my stance on reading them.

Franny was my favorite out of the three Owens siblings. Which surprised me because she was very abrasive in the beginning of the book. While she didn’t deny her powers, she didn’t embrace them either. I felt bad for her also because she loved Haylin but she couldn’t admit it because of that darn curse. She had seen, first-hand, how the curse kills. So she and Haylin made a pact where they didn’t discuss love, hoping to beat the curse. In a way, they did but it came at a horrible price.

I felt awful for Jet. She dealt with so much at such a young age. She fell in love with the Reverend’s son. She thought she could beat the curse and unfortunately, the curse gave her a double whammy. She lost her love and her parents that awful night. She was so traumatized that she lost her magical powers for a long while. With all that aside, she had to have been the sweetest characters that I have ever read. Everyone loved her….even people who were supposed to hate her.

Vincent was the one I didn’t like. Something about him rubbed me the wrong way. He didn’t give me the same likable vibe that Franny and Jet did. When he came out, all I could think is “how is he going to use this to his advantage“. What I didn’t get was how the girls could be affected by the curse and he wasn’t. I mean, he fell in love with his partner and there were no repercussions.

There was plenty of sex and romance in The Rules of Magic. But it wasn’t graphic.

The end of the book was very sad. But, I could see the ending being the beginning of Practical Magic.

4 stars

My Summary of The Rules of Magic:

If you have read Practical Magic and wondered about what the aunts’ story was….then The Rules of Magic is the book for you. It has a great plotline and memorable characters.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Older Teen

Why: Sexual situations, mild language, and mild violence

I would like to thank Alice Hoffman, NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for allowing me to read and review The Rules of Magic

All opinions stated in this review of The Rules of Magic are mine and I received no financial compensation for this review

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

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Linda 5 of 5 stars
This review was originally posted on (un)Conventional Bookviews
The Rules of Magic is a melancholy tale, spanning over the sixties and up until the present time, following three siblings who had to follow some very strict rules when they were young.


I enjoyed The Rules of Magic both because it is a great story that can stand on its own, and because it brought some important insight into the world of Practical Magic. Hofmann manages to write magical realism so well it seems completely legitimate, and I found myself rooting for the three siblings, even when what they were up to put them and others in grave danger. Breaking the rules became second nature to all three siblings after they spent a summer with their aunt. Because the rules didn't apply there.

The Rules of Magic isn't only about magic, though, it really is about family history. You know how, sometimes, a big family secret can cripple all the members of a family? Even those who don't know about the secret? That's partly what happened in this story. Susanna tried so hard to keep her children safe that she didn't give them all the necessary information for them to safely survive out in the real world. She only gave them half-truths or all out lies, and when they had to make it on their own, it was with great difficulty.

More than anything else, I think The Rules of Magic is the story of belonging. The Owen siblings didn't really feel like they belonged anywhere. Not even at home with their parents. Between the strict rules and all the things they could never talk about, they felt rather lost. And this continued as they grew older. They were loyal to each other, with a very strong sense of family. As they learned little by little, this was not always enough.

The Rules of Magic made me want to re-read Practical Magic, and I also hope there will be more books in this univers so filled with mystical energy and love.


Frances is the oldest of the Owen siblings, she could commune with birds, and did so, even when her mom forbid her to.

Bridget, or Jet, is the middle child. She was the one who was serious and seemingly law-abiding. However, when she broke the rules, she did so in such a way that the consequences of her actions touched all of the characters.

Vincent is the youngest, he seemed like the guy who didn't care about anything, and that could very well have been because he cared way too much.

Susanna and Dr. Burke-Owen were only side characters. They were important for the overall story, but their roles when they were present were not all that big.

Writing style :

The Rules of Magic has a third person omniscient narrator that shares the story in the past tense. The reader ends up knowing more about the Owens than they do themselves, and this somehow makes the mystery even more mysterioius.

Feels :

Melancholy, love, loyalty and a great dose of sadness.

Her penchant for the rules only made her children more curious. Why did their mother draw the curtains on May Day, leaving them in the dark? Why did she wear sunglasses on moonlit nights? Why did she panic when they ran out of salt and quickly rush down to buy some at the market?

"Not very welcoming," Jet said in a worried tone as the neighbors glared at them. "To hell with them," Fanny remarked. Had her sister learned nothing at the Starling School? Other people's judgements were meaningless unless you allowed them to mean something.