“Rules of Magic:
Do as you will, but harm no one.
What you give will be returned to you threefold.
Fall in love whenever you can.
I read Practical Magic earlier this year and was enamored by how much I liked the book despite its vast differences with the movie adaptation I’d grown up with. Hoffman published this prequel last year and it is a great stand alone novel and an adequate companion piece. My biggest complaint about prequels is authors trying to shoehorn the story they want to tell into a timeline they’ve already established. I have some small quibbles but overall I thought Hoffman’s conclusion here tied in nicely with Practical Magic.
The Rules of Magic follows Jet, Franny and Vincent Owen as they grow up in New York City during the late 50s into the 60s and 70s. Their mother, Susanna, knows her children are different and has raised them with strict rules like: no walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. When eldest child Franny turns 17 she is invited to spend the summer outside Boston with her Aunt Isabelle and their mother agrees to let Vincent and Jet join her. There the trio discover family secrets including a centuries old curse and, despite their mother’s life long rules, they begin to experiment with her other worldly talents. The Owens children go back to New York where they try to live their lives while outwitting the family curse.
This is a standard coming of age story of love and loss infused with a little magic and superstition to keep things fresh. As in Practical Magic the Aunts are the best part, although they are teenagers and young adults through most of the novel, while brother Vincent didn’t enamor me the way he did with everyone he met in the book. I think, being a new character, he had a harder job to do though. Also, I thought the first third of the book dragged while the later third of the book moved a bit too quickly but overall this was a bewitching summer read that fans of the original or not will enjoy.
“Leave out seed for the birds when the first snow falls. Wash your hair with rosemary. Drink lavender tea when you cannot sleep. Know that the only remedy for love is to love more.”