The Rules of Magic

The Rules of MagicThe Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Published by Simon & Schuster on October 10th 2017
Pages: 384
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four-stars

I had a hard time deciding between and 3.5 and a 4 so I rounded up to a 4.

The Rules Of Magic is a prequel to Practical Magic. I am most likely the rare reviewer who has not read practical magic (but I did see the movie). Since I have not read Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic worked very well as a stand alone novel for me.

The Owens family are a long line of witches. Their origins date back to 1620 when a descendant was charged for being a witch when she fell in love with the wrong man. One fateful summer, Susanna Owens has decided to send her three children to live with their Aunt Isabelle in Massachusetts. An Aunt they have never met but are excited to go and visit. Susanna and her husband have strict rules for their precocious children in their home: no red shoes, no black clothing, no books on magic, no cats, no crows, etc. Their children are all very different yet have one thing in common: magic. From the day he was born, Vincent has been a charmer. A hospital nurse tried to kidnap him shortly after his birth, Fanny who is fair with dark red hair, and Jett, who is shy and can read people’s thoughts.

When they arrive at their Aunt Isabelle’s home they learn that the rules no longer apply to them. They are permitted to be themselves. They wear what they want and do as they please. They learn some family secrets and to embrace their charms. At the same time they learn that there is a family curse. When they return to live with their parents, they each in their own way attempt to rid themselves of the curse only to learn that doing so is not that easy.

They find love, they turn their back on love, they get into interesting situations. They also experience loss, sadness, death and heartbreak. They travel, they experience life but they also experience family ties, devotion, closeness, and a world of magic. Plus, the reader gets to learn more about Maria Owens, the witch who long ago was charged with being a witch and more about the family curse.

Hoffman creates quirky characters which are both complex and compelling. The magic of her book is in their relationships and their family ties.

As I mentioned, I have not read Practical Magic but I intend to do so in the near future.

I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

four-stars

Faithful

FaithfulFaithful by Alice Hoffman
Published by Simon & Schuster on November 1st 2016
Pages: 272
ISBN: 1476799202
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three-half-stars

Received from the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Save Something
Say Something
Want Something

These are tidbits of advice that Shelby receives from her “Angel” after surviving a car crash that resulted in her friend being in a Coma. Shelby is pulled out of the wreckage by her Angel, but suffers from survivors grief and depression. She cannot find the way to forgive her self for the accident that injured her friend so badly. She can’t accept that she got to walk away while her friend will never walk again. Forgiveness is not something she is willing to do for herself. She is not to blame for the accident but she finds that she cannot move on with her life. She is admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where she is repeatedly sexually assaulted, and then punishes herself for not being injured by shaving her head, self medicating with marijuana, and watching television in her parents basement most of the day. Eventually her relationship with Ben, her “dealer”, becomes romantic and they both move together to NYC in attempts to better their lives. He goes to school to become a pharmacist and she gets a job in a pet store.

She makes a new friend at the pet store which is a big step for her. Shelby continues to grow as she saves animals and cares for her friend’s children in her absence. Along the way, we witness Shelby make both good and bad decisions. Throughout her ups and downs she continues to get words of advice from her angel. She tends to take the advice and finds that by doings so she is helping herself to grow and move on. Eventually she finds her calling and makes progress toward her goals. She even gets to learn the identity of the person leaving her the notes. Ssh, I’m not telling.

This book initially read like a YA book for me. I really liked the characters of Ben and Shelby’s Mom. I loved how her Mom was always supportive and always there for her even when Shelby could not see that.

This is not vintage Hoffman. At times I longed for vintage Hoffman. I enjoyed this book but not as much as some of her other works. Perhaps she was reaching for a younger audience here. Like I mentioned earlier, the beginning felt like a YA book to me. This book does has symbolism as do her other books. This book is big on forgiveness, acceptance, love, betrayal, loss, infidelity, moving on, and simply living.

I think fans of Hoffman (as well as others) will enjoy this book. I found it to be a fast easy read.

three-half-stars

The Museum of Extraordinary Things

The Museum of Extraordinary ThingsThe Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
Published by Scribner on February 18th 2014
Pages: 368
ISBN: 1451693567
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This was a very unique book. I found the writing to be quite beautiful. The alternating story lines really appealed to me. I often don’t like when books alternate between characters points of view but in this book it really worked for me. I found the characters to be very unique and original.

Coralie is the daughter of the owner of the Museum of Extrodinary Things. It’s no Museum, it’s a freak show where Coralie is featured as a Mermaid. She was born with webbed fingers and her father uses her disfigurement (as he uses all of his performers) to make money. She is taught to swim, hold her breath for long periods of time so she can be a featured performer in his museum/show. She preforms along with the Wolf man and the Butterfly girl.

Eddie is a photographer who does not want to work in his father’s apprentice in his tailor shop. He provides the other voice in this book and happens to Photograph the famous Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. He and Coralie meet while he is taking photos on night in the moonlight.

I can’t do this book justice. I don’t know how to. I only know how to say this book should be read and then possibly re-read as there are so many wonderful parts. This book was very hard to put down especially the last part of the book. Highly recommend.