Flora Reviews: The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Flora Reviews… The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

So, what’s The Rules of Magic about?


Read: 28th October – 5th November 2017

The Rules of Magic has been written as a prequel to Ms Hoffman’s popular novel, Practical Magic. However, I think that it can be read as a standalone novel. This book is listed in the contemporary literary fiction genre on Amazon UK. Although, I feel that a more appropriate description would be Magical Realism.

So, what did I like about The Rules of Magic?

Alice Hoffman is a new-to-me author. Although, I’ve watched the film version of her novel Practical Magic (and LOVED it), I haven’t actually read any of her books.

I enjoyed the way that Ms Hoffman weaved historical facts and witch related superstitions into her fictional tale. It created the setting for the Owens siblings that helped to make the ‘magic’ seem more believable.  

While we’re on the subject of magic…

I loved the way that the magic in this book is more old school than new age Wicca. I liked the importance Ms Hoffman placed on knowing yourself, being true to who you are and living your life without doing harm to anyone else. Her witchcraft has been crafted with the wisdom I associate with a village wise-woman rather than a wand wielding, broom flying witch. Especially Aunt Isabelle, who I thought was wonderful.

I like the fact that this book follows the Owens siblings growing and maturing. We’re taken on a journey from the post-war 1950s, through the turbulent 1960s and end at the time young Sally and Gillian Owens move in. We witness many types of prejudices and see the implications of the war in Vietnam. For a piece of fiction that is set in America’s turbulent times, I do feel that this story has the right amount of tears, mystery and chuckles for a family saga of this size.

So, um, was there anything I disliked about it?

Dislike is too strong an emotion but there were definitely a few things that took the shine off for me.

To begin with, I was perhaps a tad disappointed that this book didn’t grab me with both hands; it was easy to put down.

I felt as though I was observing the tale unfold rather than being immersed in it.

Feeling as though I was reading a flashback of events that had already happened. I read the scenes without experiencing the complex emotions that would’ve accompanied them. In other words, at times, I thought that this novel was a third party view of what happened to Franny, Jet & Vincent.

I also found it slightly off-putting that the book didn’t have chapters but was divided into six parts; Intuition, Alchemy, Conjure, Elemental, Gravity and Remedy. Another reviewer mentioned that The Rules of Magic reads more like a screenplay rather than a novel. I know exactly what she means, it will make a fantastic film!

So, basically what I’m saying is…

I enjoyed this book; it was good but it caused me much deliberation over what star rating I would give it! Lol!

I’d recommend The Rules of Magic to those of you who enjoy family sagas. Stories about love, loyalty, tragedy, prejudice and secret histories within a magical realism setting. But be warned this melancholy but beautiful tale made me cry more than it made me laugh. If you don’t mind not getting a Disney-esque happily ever after, then this book could be right up your street.

signature graphic. Happy reading from flora image sitting on books

So, has my review of THE RULES OF MAGIC encouraged you to find out more? Just click on any of the links to check out the book yourself. Keep reading to find out more about the author.

Flora x

By Flora

I'm in my late forties, my interests are varied but since menopause hit a few years ago, I find myself becoming a "grumpy old woman" all too frequently - where has my infinite patience gone!?! Lol!
I bought a Kindle in the summer of 2013 and haven't stopped reading since. If you want to know more about me, check out my blog -

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