The Rules of Magic

Written by Alice Hoffman
Review by Rebecca Cochran

This prequel to Hoffman’s famous Practical Magic portrays the story of the Aunts and their intriguing past. Franny, Bridget (Jet), and Vincent have grown up in New York City with practical parents. This is sometimes hard because Franny can talk to birds, Jet can read people’s thoughts, and Vincent can charm anyone he meets. Their mother, Susanna, knows her children are different, but she’s afraid of the family curse, so runs her household with no nonsense, no magic, and a strict no-falling-in-love rule. As the children grow up in the late 1950s and early ’60s, they begin to get more and more curious about the family secret. When they spend one summer at their Aunt Isabelle’s house in Massachusetts, they begin to learn more about their family and embrace their heritage. Each sibling has a chance at love, but will they take the risk? Will their mother be right, after all, and will love only lead to ruin?

Hoffman has a gift for fine storytelling, and this story does not disappoint. The transformation of each sibling from gawky, lost children into powerful, independent adults resonates and enchants. And while the story lacks historical detail, there is plenty of character development and family drama to satisfy most readers.