Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

I've been looking out for more Alice Hoffman, ever since Faithful this time last year, which I loved. 

I picked up The Rules of Magic, written in 2017, but a prequel to Practical Magic, which is her most famous book, and has been made into a movie. Even though this was written later, I thought I'd read it first.

The Owens family know they're different. Not just unique in an 'everyone is special' way. Really very different. Talented. Which makes them awkward. And odd. This may be easier for the adults, it's the children who have to navigate a world that expects them to be normal. Franny, who has skin as pale as milk, blood red hair and communicates with birds; Jet, who reads everyone's thoughts yet is shy and reserved and Vincent, who is highly musical, and so charismatic - even as a baby, someone tried to steal him, must figure out the "rules". Mom, Susanna helps by giving them some - we meet her in the first sentences.

"Once upon a time, before the whole world changed, it was possible to run away from home, disguise who you were , and fit into polite society. The children's mother had done exactly that."

So what are the Rules? No walking in the moonlight, no Ouija boards, no candles, no red shoes, no wearing black, no going shoeless, no amulets, no night-blooming flowers, no reading novels about magic, no cats, no crows and no venturing beyond Fourteenth Street. Of course, normal children don't obey any rules, so that's problematic, what with them trying to be ever so normal. 

"Yet no matter how Susanna tried to enforce these rules, the children continued to thwart her."

And it's the family curse that gets them - don't ever fall in love.

This is a delightful charming tale of unusual proportions. The writing is beautiful, and I fell in love with all the children and their friends. Alice Hoffman says she writes for the same reason she reads - to escape into a world that is completely different. She allows us to do that here. I loved it.

4 stars.

ISBN: 9781471157677

You may also enjoy Faithful by Alice Hoffman, or what about Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin?

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