I am a huge fan of the movie Practical Magic. I've seen in dozens of times, can probably quote it from memory, and even have the soundtrack on my iPod. So years ago, when I finally sat down and read Alice Hoffman's book that the movie was based on, I was surprised. Hollywood took a lot of liberties with that script, and while I love it, it lacks the depth and complexity of the novel.
Now Hoffman has written a prequel, the story of the women who become the crazy aunts in Practical Magic as well as their brother, who we get to meet for the first time.
Franny, Jet, and Vincent Owens are born and raised in New York City with very little contact with their mother Susanna's family, particularly her Aunt Isabelle in Massachusetts. Franny is a striking redhead with a deep connection to nature and the ability to communicate with birds. Jet, short for Bridget, is a quiet brunette with the ability to hear other people's thoughts and the beauty to drive men to extremes for her attention. And then there is their brother Vincent, the magnetic musician, whose dark eyes and dark powers draw women and trouble like moths to a flame.
Susanna sets down the rules for her three unusual children--no reading books about magic, no red shoes, no cats, no candles, no walking in the moonlight, among others--but they all realize that their true natures cannot be changed. A summer spent with Aunt Isabelle at her garden home in a small town in Massachusetts, a town where Owens women have lived and loved for hundreds of years, reveals more of the puzzle of Franny, Jet, and Vincent's genetic roots and the strange powers they've always known were inside them.
As the teenagers grow up, they are faced with a number of challenges to their hearts and minds. Falling in love, learning about sex, dealing with loss, starting over, and sticking together, the three siblings struggle to find their place in the city they grew up in and in their family. No matter how bad things get, the three siblings know that they can get through it if they stay true to themselves and to each other.
Alice Hoffman's The Rules of Magic is a beautiful, bewitching story of family love and devotion. Page by page, I kept getting more and more drawn into the stories of these individuals, and I couldn't help but get sucked into their dramas and cheer them on. It's so moving and so powerful that I think Ms. Hoffman has been performing some magic on us as she transports us so easily into the world of the Owens women and their special witchcraft. Highly recommended, and by that I mean, what are you waiting for? Buy it now and get started reading!
Galleys for The Rules of Magic were provided by Simon & Schuster through NetGalley.com, with many thanks.