Alice Hoffman is a great author, and I’ve been reading her books since high school. My reading style used to be to find an author I liked, and then devour everything in their pantheon. My enthusiasm for her works waned a little in my adult years (eww, gross, old), and I thought I’d outgrown her storytelling style, but the first prequel to Practical Magic, Rules of Magic, sparked my interest and I really enjoyed learning more about the Owens sisters, it was a treat to once again make their acquaintance. I was again just as excited to pick up Magic Lessons which I guess is the pre-prequel? (Or the prequel to the prequel? I don’t know). It didn’t grip me as immediately as the first new one, but I still loved it and think that Hoffman is doing well mining the history of these beloved characters.
This one was my No Money pick because I got it from the library (like I do most of my books) but I almost could have had it for free as they never officially checked it out to me, and only later realized it. A moment of solidarity for our librarian friends y’all, with all the book quaratines and reduced hours and services. Sigh. I digress.
This book takes us to the way way back, where we learn about the curse that we first heard about in Practical Magic, that men who love an Owens woman are doomed to death and ruin. But how and why did it all being with Maria Owens? The aunts discuss it in the first (third?) book and of course it’s present in the novel that covers their youth, but this one takes us back old school, to the time of witch trials and Puritans. That in and of itself is a fun time to be reading a witchy book.
It took me a bit to get into this book, I think because there wasn’t an easy in. Magic Lessons gives us the aunts from Practical Magic in their youth, whereas we haven’t been previously acquainted with Maria, only hearing of her from her descendants. So, I didn’t really care about her as much at first, but after a while I took to it and I think all of these books work well together. I would give it a 5 for being part of the Owens family history, but a 4 as its own standalone book. They would make for a cozy fall/winter series.
I’m intrigued how they would read if you read them now in chronological order, rather than in the order they were written, so if someone does that, let me know!