Book Review: The Rules of Magic


AUTHOR: Alice Hoffman

GENRE: Fantasy/Historical Fiction

PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster

PUBLISHED ON: October 10, 2017

PAGES: 366 [hardcover]

the rules of magic



The year is 1969. The Owens family lives in New York City. The parents, Dr. and Mrs. Burke-Owens do everything they can to protect their three unique children.

“It was clear from the start that they were not like other children, therefore Susanna felt she had no choice but to set down rules. No walking in the moonlight, no Ouija boards, no candles, no red shoes, no wearing black, no going shoeless, no amulets, no night-blooming flowers, no reading novels about magic, no cats, no crows, and no venturing below Fourteenth Street.”

The rules seem strange to Frances, Bridget (Jet) and Vincent. Finally, it all starts to make sense the summer that Frances turns seventeen and receives an invitation from Aunt Isabelle to spend the summer in Massachusetts. All three children travel to Magnolia Street in Salem, Massachusetts to find out what it truly means to be an Owens. 

Maria Owens, their earliest known ancestor, was charged with witchery for being seduced and abandoned by John Hathorne, a married judge. Hathorne fathered Maria’s child and in order to save his reputation, he charged Maria with witchcraft. He became the cruel, biased judge to persecute several women (and cause great-grandson Nathaniel Hawthorne to change the spelling of his name).

Now that the Owens siblings understand that witchcraft has been in their blood for hundreds of years, combined with their wise aunt as a mentor, Frances, Jet and Vincent can master their magic.

***The Rules of Magic is a prequel to Hoffman’s renowned novel, Practical Magic. These books can be read in any order or on their own***


*as always, spoiler free*

The Rules of Magic in one word: magnetizing. I thoroughly enjoyed traveling back in time, and then forward in time, with the Owens family.


  • entrancing descriptions of nature
  • the amount of time that spans the novel, allowing the prequel to come full-circle
  • contrast of the two settings: New York City and Massachusetts suburbia
  • intertwined fantasy (magic) and fact (Salem Witch Trial history)
  • the charming relationship between the siblings
  • MAGIC!


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have an issue with books that are divided by ONLY parts with no chapters. It was by no means a deal-breaker with this novel, but there never seems to be a good place to stop reading (trust me, I wish I never had to stop reading but sometimes life gets in the way). I need a distinct place to stop: to reflect, to pause, to SLEEP!

  • Part one: INTUITION
  • Part two: ALCHEMY
  • Part three: CONJURE
  • Part four: ELEMENTAL
  • Part five: GRAVITY
  • Part six: REMEDY



“In Massachusetts everything had a faint green aroma, a combination of cucumber, wisteria, dogwood, and peppermint.”

“It brought her comfort to know that for more than three hundred years people in her family had been in this town, walking where she walked now.”

“On June 28, 1969, the weather was hot, eighty-seven degrees, unusual for the time of year. New York City grew steamy, as if the heat rose from its core.”

“It was a clear, bright, beautiful day, the air tinged with salt, the climbing roses blooming. The graveyard was filled with sunlight.”

“Other people’s judgments were meaningless unless you allowed them to mean something.”







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