Practical Magic, a beloved novel by Alice Hoffman, just got a prequel, and I'm pretty sure the entire fandom just collectively sighed in relief. Magic Lessons is set in a time before the curse was laid on the Owens women.

Maria Owens, arguably the most famous and infamous Owns women of them all. She's the one who started the curse. Her legend was passed down through the family, but until now, fans had never really gotten a chance to see the full story.

She was abandoned as a baby, in England, yet over the course of her life, she made a place for herself and eventually made her way to Salem, Massachusetts. Her timing was probably not the best, as her story will show.

“Read as many books as you can. Always choose courage.”

Oh my goodness. I should have expected this, but Magic Lessons touched my heart. It was beautiful, heartwarming, and heartbreaking all in one. Just like Practical Magic, the story of the Owens family wormed it's way into my soul.

Before I really dive into my review, I do want to mention that there is a fair amount of animal death in this book. There are several familiars in Magic Lessons, and let's just say that they don't all make it. Consider yourself warned.

Honestly, if I had thought about it a bit more, I would have realized how heavy this novel was going to be. It's about the origin of the Owens curse, which says enough right there. But I was still blown away by how much this novel made me feel.

“Always love someone you will love you back.”

It wasn't all sadness. It was a complex variety of emotions, a combination that only Alice Hoffman can evoke. I really do mean it when I say that it was both heartbreaking and heartwarming – with just the right balance of both.

The story of Maria Owens was, frankly, fascinating. I never would have guessed how much she went through in her life. I knew about the part of her life that resulted in the curse, but that was literally the extent of it. I never would have guessed the events before the curse – or the events afterward.

Like the other Owens tales, this is a multi-generation story, at least in part. Her mother, her daughter, and the lives of the people she touched, they all matter in this novel. It's all beautifully woven together.

I'll confess that I felt a bit weepy when I finished Magic Lessons. I think that had more to do with how deeply it touched me, than any truly somber note of the novel itself. It was also the sadness of saying goodbye to a brilliant book.

Check out more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

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