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Practical Magic, Book 0
Goodreads⎮Reviewed Oct. 2017
Narrator: Marin Ireland
Length: 10 hrs and 58 mins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio⎮2017
Synopsis: Find your magic
For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.
Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.
From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.
The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.
4.5 ★ Audiobook⎮ I found The Rules of Magic so much more satisfying than Practical Magic. Even when listening to Practical Magic, I was drawn to the characters of Jet and Franny. I’m so glad Hoffman decided to tell their story in more detail.
The historical setting perfectly suited the story. It was wonderful to see Jet and Franny as children and young adults. Even though The Rules of Magic was released after Practical Magic, it’s set several decades before. The story is told in such a way that someone new to the series could just as easily hear The Rules of Magic first, especially if a chronological order is preferred. The Rules of Magic ends by introducing the newest generation of Owens, Sally and Gillian, who go on to become the main characters in Practical Magic.
I’m so glad that I decided to give this prequel a chance. My initial experience with the series left me rather indifferent. I was expecting a stronger paranormal theme and got a “slice of life” instead. But with The Rules of Magic, I knew what to expect and was prepared for it.
In a lot of ways, this came across as historical fiction. It just happened that the family at the center of the cross-generational story has paranormal abilities. But the family was very much the focus of the story. In that respect, it resembled Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches series, but with a slower pace and lighter tone.
Like Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic was a character driven story. The major difference, from my perspective, was that I was already invested in the characters this time. Unlike most other stories featuring paranormal elements, very little of the characters’ of supernatural abilities where within their control. The author wrote them passively. For the most part, the Owens were reacting to things that happened to them, but initiating very little of the action. Because of that, there really didn’t seem to be a plot. It annoyed me in the first book, because I wanted more action, but I was able to appreciate it for what it was in The Rules of Magic.
Alice Hoffman obviously knows that her strength as a writer lies in character development. Kudos to her for capitalizing on that strength. The development of the outside world seemed stronger in this installment as well. There was a better sense of time and of the outside world, which helped track the generational progress of the Owens family and its individual members.
I hope Hoffman continues on with this series. I’m eager to see if she will continue backtracking within the Owens family or chronicle of the lives of younger generations. Either way, I look forward to returning to the Owens characters and Hoffman’s storytelling.
Narration Review: Marin Ireland was an excellent choice to narrate The Rules of Magic. Her appointment as narrator influenced my decision to begin this audiobook. Having someone new perform this installment in the series was the right call. It was my first listening experience with Marin at the helm and I was deeply impressed. Her performance was spot on. She provided excellent character distinction and an all-around pleasant listening experience. I could have listened to Ireland forever. ♣︎