The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman


“Practical Magic” is my favorite [and the best] witch movie. I finally read the book Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman last year and was surprised and disconcerted by the dark tone of the novel compared with the movie. I was especially shocked at the stern, cold, calculating aunts from the book compared to the lovable free-spirits of the movie. When Hoffman published The Rules of Magic last fall, a prequel to Practical Magic that follows the lives of these aunts (and their brother) before Gillian and Sally show up on their doorstep in Massachusetts, I was curious to see how the books would compare. I was not disappointed: The Rules of Magic absolutely captivated me from the beginning. Hoffman’s prequel was a subtle blend of the original raw anguish and a new sparkle of magic and hope.


The book takes place mostly in New York City through the nineteen sixties and seventies and is an excellent backdrop for three witches coming-of-age. Hoffman’s is a character driven story about life, love and loss. I listened to the book through my Libby app and was crying as the book ended. It really snuck up on me, but I felt like I finally “got” what Practical Magic has been about this whole time. It was deeply moving while still being quirky. Jet and Franny from the film were recognizable in their younger selves throughout The Rules of Magic and reading the book felt like going home.

I recommend this book for anyone looking for an enjoyable fall read with a hint of magic, readers who likes modern historical fiction with large doses of romance and drama. I loved The Rules of Magic and hope you do too.

The author, Alice Hoffman

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