...an enchanting prequel ... The magic in these endearing witches is in their everydayness. They cope with high-school mean girls, apply to college, play music and oh yes, can hear each other’s thoughts, move furniture with their minds and are unable to sink in water. Like every human being, the witches are doomed to lose the ones they love most. This is the kind of book you race through, then pause at the last 40 pages, savoring your final moments with the characters. Hoffman has conjured up another irresistible novel in The Rules of Magic.
...reading it was like being caught in a current, floating along with a river's twists and turns, glimpsing familiarity and difference in varied measure before tumbling into something like the sea. I kept reading, not because I wanted to reach the end, but because I wanted to dwell in the honey-light of Hoffman's words. I wanted to hold these characters' hands ... I was sometimes confused by how often do no harm came up as an exhortation or a plot point, when by any conceivable metric the Owens siblings do harm people — and themselves — with magic all the time. Trying to puzzle a consistency out of the magic use was a bit like trying to bottle up the river with a sieve, so for the most part I shrugged it off and just lay back into the current. But overall, the tug of the familiar and the enchantment of the new are the rule to which the above were exceptions. Hoffman's prose is as tender, dreamy and sweet as ever, laced with the sting of vinegar and broken glass ... The Rules of Magic shows that sometimes the work you do comes back to you threefold — and sometimes you go back to the work you've done, and unfold three times more color from it.
Their story is set in the 1960s, and Hoffman weaves cultural and historical references into the novel. It’s the summer solstice meets the 'Summer of Love'; spells and potions and superstition rub elbows with riots and music festivals and bellbottoms. Hoffman handles this commingling beautifully, and the fact that her fantasy is grounded in reality makes it feel grittier and more tangible. The Rules of Magic fills in the blanks for Practical Magic fans, but it works perfectly as a standalone as well. It’s clear why Hoffman is a favorite for fantasy readers: She creates interesting mythologies; she’s able to weave magic into the modern world; and she alludes to the magical properties of herbs and everyday items without overexplaining them and overcomplicating her narratives.
[Hoffman] delivers a gift sure to enchant ... the story unfolds in romantic and magical ways against the backdrop of 1960s, with the Stonewall riot, LSD in Central Park, Bob Dylan and Vietnam all making appearances. Hoffman will keep you guessing until the very end of the book how the Practical Magic generation fits in, a clever, heartbreaking finale.
It’s tough to top a dead body in a car, the event that drove the plot in Practical Magic, and Hoffman doesn’t try. Instead she goes for historical sweep, setting the Owens siblings’ saga against the backdrop of real events like the Vietnam War, San Francisco’s Summer of Love and the Stonewall riots. But this is a novel that begins with the words, 'Once upon a time,' and its strength is a Hoffman hallmark: the commingling of fairy-tale promise with real-life struggle. The Owens children can’t escape who they are. Like the rest of us, they have to figure out the best way to put their powers to use.
Readers who grew up with Lemony Snicket’s Baudelaire children, or those who enjoyed the magical intrigue of Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy, will adore this enchanting, engrossing, and exhilarating novel.
Being an adolescent is hard under the best of circumstances — growing up as a witch in the 1960s poses even more than the ordinary challenges ...the premise of Alice Hoffman’s latest novel, The Rules of Magic, which takes us through the formative and adult years of Franny, Jet and Vincent Owens... Hoffman exhibits her deft touch for making characters we can care about, even if not all of them are likable. ranny is the undisputed leader, her responsible side warring with what she really wants in her heart. Readers will find it hard not to feel sorry for the limits she puts on her life ...a lovely story about a family, warts and all — even if those warts are magically different from the ups and downs of a more traditional family.
The almost supernaturally prolific American author Alice Hoffman has taken a busman’s holiday this year to pen a little fan fiction: a prequel to her own bestselling novel Practical Magic … Hoffman has a soothing touch, so we quickly get over the various horrific tragedies with which her latest book is littered – any one of which would pole-axe us personally for life. It’s all the great circle of death, we comfort ourselves, as we stroll through the scented garden of Hoffman’s prose.
No one's more confident or entertaining than Hoffman at putting across characters willing to tempt fate for true love. Real events like the Vietnam draft and Stonewall uprising enter the characters' family history as well as a stunning plot twist—delivering everything fans of a much-loved book could hope for in a prequel.
Hoffman delights in this prequel to Practical Magic ... Hoffman’s novel is a coming-of-age tale replete with magic and historical references to the early witch trials. The spellbinding story, focusing on the strength of family bonds through joy and sorrow, will appeal to a broad range of readers.