Check It Out: The Rules of Magic and Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Jun 28, 2021

This is Jenn Delperdang, with the Sioux City Public Library, and you’re listening to Check It Out.

Today, I am recommending two books by Alice Hoffman--The Rules of Magic and Magic Lessons—both prequels to the book Practical Magic. Practical Magic is the story of two sisters, Gillian and Sally Owens, raised in a small New England town by their elderly aunts.  In The Rules of Magic, we meet the aunts—Franny and Jet—and their brother Vincent--growing up and coming of age in New York City in the 1960s.  The siblings have never “fit” in the world—until they visit their Aunt in Massachusetts and discover the secrets and curses of their bloodline.    In this book, the characters are complex, and the dialogue is well-crafted.  And there is something utterly enchanting about Alice Hoffman’s writing. 

Magic Lessons takes us farther back in the Owens family history—back to England in the 1600s when Hannah Owens—a witch and healer, finds a baby girl abandoned in a basket guarded by a crow.  Hannah sees in the child that she names Maria, the natural powers of a bloodline witch, and teaches her the nameless art.  We follow Maria until she finds herself in Salem, Massachusetts—where the Owens curse is born.  Magic Lessons is mystical realism, literary fiction and historical fiction combined with strong female characters and an engaging and descriptive writing style.  

You don’t have to have read Practical Magic to enjoy either of the prequels, but you will want to read (or re-read) Practical Magic after reading these two books by Alice Hoffman—and you can find all three at the Sioux City Public Library. 

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Avery Brothers.