The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman review – an enchanting prequel to Practical Magic


Hoffman displays her magic touch once again as she relates the witchy sisters’ family backstory in a novel set in 1950s New York

The almost supernaturally prolific American author Alice Hoffman has taken a busman’s holiday this year to pen a little fan fiction: a prequel to her own bestselling novel Practical Magic. The original book became the 1998 Hollywood romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as witchy sisters Gillian and Sally Owens. Now, in The Rules of Magic, set in 1950s New York, we are treated to the backstory of Gillian and Sally’s great-aunts, Frances and Jet.

Like all the females in the Owens family tree, Frances and Jet are witches descended from Salem escapee Maria Owens. More than 300 years ago, the teenage Maria was seduced and abandoned by Salem trial judge John Hathorne (real-life great-great-grandfather of Nathaniel Hawthorne, who added a “w” in his name to deflect the inevitable question).

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