The Rules of Magic

Twenty years after her bestselling Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman returns to the Owens family, exploring the history of sisters Frances and Bridget (known in their younger days as Franny and Jet) and their brother, Vincent, in her spellbinding new novel, The Rules of Magic.

The Owens women aren't like other women. Descendants of a highly unusual family, they have certain powers and gifts, but they also struggle against a longstanding family curse. Despite Susanna Owens's best efforts to raise her three children in a non-magical, non-accursed fashion, one summer spent with their great-aunt Isabelle in Massachusetts will change everything.

Like many fairy tales, this story begins with "Once upon a time," and the narration does have a timeless quality. Wild birds fly into Franny's hand; daffodils bloom in all seasons under Jet's; Vincent discovers a mysterious book with powers he doesn't quite understand. But the characters also feel complex and sympathetic, especially when they wrestle with the weight of the Owens legacy. Their fierce, often fractious love for each other proves to be their greatest strength when tragedy strikes not once, but many times.

While Hoffman's story is shot through with magic, it is undeniably real: marked with heartache and loss, and the need to reckon with one's own choices and those of one's family. Hoffman explores loss, love and hope through her characters' lives, all while weaving a spell strong enough to make readers believe that magic--of several kinds--is right around the next corner. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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