Review: The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Book review The Rules of Magic by Book Barista

Years ago, I watched the movie “Practical Magic” and I absolutely loved it. It was a pleasing discovery that Alice Hoffman wrote a prequel in 2017. Was The Rules of Magic just as compelling? Find out below!

Book Cover

In this sparkling prequel we meet sisters Frances and Jet and Vincent, their brother.
From the beginning their mother Susanna knew they were unique. Franny with her skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, who could commune with birds; Jet as shy as she is beautiful, who knows what others are thinking, and Vincent so charismatic that he was built for trouble.

Therefore, Susanna needed to set some rules of magic: no walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles and certainly, absolutely, no books about magic…

First Impression

The Rules of Magic started off a bit childish, therefore I wasn’t quite sure if this was going to be good. Moreover, the characters seem to be a bit complicated in an unnecessary way. However, the years pass away fast in this book and many life-changing events occur. The childishness fades.

The Story

The book revolves around three siblings: Franny, Jet, and Vincent. If you’ve seen or read “Practical Magic”, you know that Franny and Jet are the aunts of Gillian and Sally. The story starts off in the 50’s when they are teenagers and they are discovering life and themselves. The book ends when they are much older and Gillian and Sally knock on their door.

When Franny turns 17, they receive an invitation to stay at aunt Isabelle’s for the summer. I think the story really kicks off during their summer there, because this is where they discover their descendancy, magic and their curse. This curse entails that the man they are in love with, will die soon if they are in a relationship with them. They all try to outsmart this cruel curse, but will one of them succeed? That is for you to read.

The characters are not very likable, although you do want to continue reading because you want them to be okay. They are not unlikeable though, it’s just that they are convinced that they are this or that, or they should be this or that, and sometimes that just seems unnecessary and perhaps a bit annoying.

As the story develops, many sad situations happen and the book definitely becomes more mature. Actually, it is such a rollercoaster that I have many mixed feelings about the book. I feel like it is more about what the characters experience and have to go through because of their magic than it is about magic.

My Opinion

I loved reading The Rules of Magic, although I didn’t think it was a particularly good book. Confusing, huh? I liked reading it, but I don’t think all the characters develop sufficiently, because underlying it stays a bit bleak. Or maybe the storylines skip too many years at once, so it feels a bit off beat. Overall, I think Vincent’s storyline is most successfully written.

Also, I would have loved to read a bit more about the magic, or their rules for that matter. I did learn something from the book though, “Abracadabra” is Aramaic for “I create what I speak” and I think that’s beautiful.

The conclusion of The Rules of Magic

I am leaning towards 3,5 stars, but that is not an option, so I am giving the benefit of the doubt: 4 stars.

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Written by Roos Bergers