The Rules of Magic. Alice Hoffman. Simon & Schuster. October 2017. 384 pp. ISBN #: 9781501137471.
The Rules of Magic is a prequel to the well-known novel and film, Practical Magic. It doesn’t matter if one hasn’t read the other novel; this is a stand-alone story in which Susanna Owens trains her two daughters and son not to do things that would allow the public to know both their horrendous family history or their present strange powers. Yes, in 1620 their ancestor was charged with witchery. Such a heritage is indeed hard to live with!
There are many rules that Susanna makes her children obey but they go ahead and do all those things anyway. Franny, Jet and Vincent have their own unpredictable ways and support each other in when to and when not to use their powers. Foretelling the future, reading the thoughts of other people, and other skills all are minor talents. The one that really matters to them is their mother’s warning not to fall in love. This then is the heart of this novel. For how can one stop oneself from falling in love? But they also know that the one they fall in love with will die if they marry. No spoilers here but at times the reader holds one’s breath because we come to believe that falling in love will turn tragic.
Aunt Isabella is a wonderful character whose wisdom shared with these three young but inexperienced characters saves the day. Her dry sense of humor and blunt advice delights the reader as well.
Franny, Jet and Vincent figure out how to live with their curse or blessing, depending on how one looks at it, and maneuver around it eventually. Many will die or get hurt, charming connections are found, and many surprises are in store regarding love. Through it all, the siblings maintain a very special connection and sense of humor about it all.
In between their escapades is a delightful look at the 1960s where one smells wonderful flowers, herbs and food; hears memorable hippie music of that era; and more.
The Rules of Magic is one more example of Alice Hoffman’s exquisitely skilled writing which is superb and must reading!