Maria was just a newborn when her mother abandoned her at a clearing in the forest near Hannah Owens’ hut. Hannah was taken with the baby and brought her up as her daughter. Hannah was a healer with the gift of sight, and Maria grew up knowing that she, too, was special in that way. Hannah’s death, eleven years after Maria’s arrival, was rather inevitable, for she could never refuse a woman in need, and it was precisely one who brought death with her. Maria went to live with her biological mother for a while—she was also born with “the sight”—and complemented Hannah’s teachings with some “dark arts teachings” of her own. Upon parting from her mother, Maria was sold to indenture servitude in the island of Curacao where she remained until she was sixteen, when, following her heart, or what passed by love at the time, she ended up in the fledging village of Salem, Massachusetts, and her life would change in irrevocable ways.
I haven’t read Practical Magic or The Rules of Magic, so I had to base my judgment on the merits of this novel alone. Magic Lessons is mostly a narrative, well written, as expected from an author at the peak of her writing prowess, though a bit repetitive in parts. I expected the novel to be rather predictable, as Maria Owens ended up in Salem, Massachusetts, so it was inevitable to associate the plot with Salem’s witch trials, and there was a lot of that, but luckily enough Alice Hoffman avoided that pitfall by plunging the story in interesting new directions that gave it depth and plausibility.
Interestingly, I have become keen on reading Practical Magic and its prequel, so I’ll be reading more about the Owens family in the future.
Disclaimer: I received from the publisher a free e-book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.