June 17, 2018

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The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman | SLJ Review

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redstarHOFFMAN, Alice. The Rules of Magic. 384p. S. & S. Oct. 2017. Tr $27.99. ISBN 9781501137471.

The gray-eyed Owens children have always been strange, and not just because they like black clothing and are oddly buoyant. Frances, the oldest, can communicate with birds; shy and beautiful middle sibling Bridget (nicknamed Jet for her black hair) can read minds; and the youngest, Vincent, is so winsome and irresistible that his obstetric nurse attempted to kidnap him. Growing up in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s, the children never fit in, until they visit Aunt Isabelle in Massachusetts and discover they are bloodline witches. Full of gifts and potential, the siblings are cursed with knowing too much about fate and the future. Though this coming-of-age tale is a prequel to Hoffman’s Practical Magic, readers need not have read the earlier book—but they’ll eagerly seek out the author’s other work. The clever Owenses handle major crises such as the Vietnam War, first loves, and the death of family members, all while learning how to cope with their special abilities in a world that doesn’t always value those who are different. Fans of magical realism and lyrical novels, such as Leslye Walton’s The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender and Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s The Accident Season, will appreciate Hoffman’s descriptive and succinct way with words. ­VERDICT  Give to sophisticated teens who enjoy a bit of magic in their love stories.–Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2018 issue.

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