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Literary Friday: The Rules of Magic

Friday, January 19, 2018

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Each Friday during the month of January I'm sharing one of the books I read during Christmas vacation.  Today I'm reviewing The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman.  It's the prequel to her very popular book Practical Magic, and it's the story about Sally and Gillian's aunts, Franny and Jet, and the aunts' brother Vincent.  

The books I read during Christmas

According to Goodreads:

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. 

My Review:

This was the first book I read on vacation, and I could barely get through it.  I can't recall ever being more disappointed in a book!  Practical Magic is one of my favorite books, so I was anxiously awaiting the prequel. I intentionally waited to read it during Christmas because I thought it would be special, like a Christmas present to myself.  Was I ever wrong!

Aunt Jet and Aunt Frances were intriguing and delightful characters in Practical Magic, but not so much in The Rules of Magic.  They're unlikable in this book.  They make stupid decisions, and I thought Franny was downright mean until almost the end of the book.  Jet's character is odd, and she allows circumstances to define who she is.  Their brother Vincent is Gillian and Sally's grandfather.  What a little womanizing horn dog he is (from a very young age)!  

The timeline is off in this book as it ties into Practical Magic.  Although Vincent fathers Gillian and Sally's mother at 14, still there's no way that the timeline works with their ages in 1995.  This bothers me so much!  Honestly I think it was set in the sixties strictly for political reasons because, again, it doesn't fit with the timeline of Practical Magic!  I could barely get past the bad editing.  There are repeated words, and on page sixteen, "Franny discovered an old photograph album wrapped in muslim on the top shelf of the hallway closet."  Muslim and not muslin?  Really?  After sixteen pages I put it down and ordered a cold blade drink on the beach because at that point I needed it.  I don't know why it was necessary to include pedophilia in the book, and why Ms. Hoffman "body shames" a thirty-something year old mother.  Failure to the sisterhood!

I've read so many of Alice Hoffman's books.  I liked or loved them all.  This one is definitely a disappointing outlier.  Plus, I chose it as the Indie Next List selection for my Sketchy Reader Letters, but I'm not going to subject anyone to this book so I selected another one from the list.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. I tried to read this one and quit. I love this author and the magic she weaves into her stories but this one fell flat. Good review...honest and appreciated! Hugs, Diane

  2. I can't stand to waste time on a book I don't like, which is why I love my Kindle so much, being able to read a sample before buying is such a perk! I hope reading this prequel didn't spoil your love of Practical Magic...Once again, I really appreciate your honest reviews!

  3. That is the one thing I really love about your reviews, Ricki----total honesty. I will not waste my time with this book. I throws me when there is really bad editing and also when timelines don't match up as expected.

    Have a great weekend- xo Diana

  4. I have a friend who read this book and felt the same way. Great review, though - very fair and clear. Enjoy your week!

  5. I hate reading a book that I don't enjoy, but I always feel guilty not seeing it through to the end.

  6. I appreciate your honesty and will not add this one to my read list.

  7. Don't you hate it when that happens -- you anticipate it so and it's a great disappointment? I always try to finish, since I've already invested time and who knows? It may pay off, but when it doesn't I feel cheated. I really do appreciate your candid and thoughtful reviews.

  8. I can understand why you didn't like this one! I thought the aunts were sisters to Sally and Gillian's father, not grandfather. So, yeah, the timeline seems off. And Vincent had a child at 14? I can't imagine...

  9. I adored this book even more than Practical Magic. I was so disappointed in Practical Magic. Funny how we all see things so differently. It’s what makes the world go round I suppose!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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