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Publisher's Summary

From beloved author Alice Hoffman comes the spellbinding prequel to her best seller Practical Magic.

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 '60s, 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. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is a story about the power of love reminding us that the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself.

©2017 Alice Hoffman (P)2017 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"This audiobook, narrated by Marin Ireland, is an enchanting performance of a charming story.... Unlike some performers, Ireland doesn't focus on creating extremely distinct voices for each character; instead, she provides a perfect match for author Hoffman's creative style, which is warm and lyrical. Ireland speaks clearly, enunciating every word, and reads at a smooth pace." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Darkly Fun and Bitterweet


It seems I'm one of the few women in North America that hasn't previously read Practical Magic, but if seeing what Hollywood and an A-list of actresses can do to a novel carries any weight, kudos to me for having seen the movie. Irrelevant, other than the fact that the whole atmosphere Hoffman has created, the oddly charming characters and their witch-y lineage from the 1620's was (and is) quirky fun that quickly has you letting go of the confines of logic and reality and drifting along in an enjoyable, well-written story of a family bound together as much by love as DNA, potions and spells.

In my case, Magical Realism is parking a stool on thin ice and sitting down to read. But I read this in October, the month I entertain the possibility of witches among us. I think I'll add Practical Magic to my Wish List for next October, which makes perfect sense since this is the prequel.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Not What I Expected

I anticipated an escapist journey into the world of wand-waving witches and wizards, replete with bubbling cauldrons. Instead, I discovered a charming, tender and often funny story of three young adults and their journey into self-discovery and adulthood. Marin Ireland's narration is spot-on and brought the story to life. I now intend to listen to every Audible production of Alice Hoffman's books - I'm hooked.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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Enjoyable but no substance

Alice Hoffman's writing is always excellent, but there is very little plot in this novel. I liked the characters and their various storylines, but they suffered from a lack of anything to do or any real dramatic crisis. I also felt the voice of the narrator chosen for the audio book was not correct for these characters, and she relied too heavily on using snarky, obnoxious voices for the teenagers.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Terrible narration

I love Alice Hoffman...have for years. I was thrilled to see another on the way and pre-ordered this book. I am currently on chapter 3 and had to stop to write this. The narration is awful. It's unfeeling, dull and any attempts at character personalization fall flat. I hate this person who is ruining my usually enthralled, enlightened Alice Hoffman experience. Mystical detail and rich character development are Hoffman staples! Why are you ruining them with your boring, monotone delivery?! I will keep listening in the hopes the story becomes so enticing I won't notice her snore-fest.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Great book, not so great narrator

I was looking forward to this prequel and it's as good as I expected it to be so far.
But I can't stand this narrator. The "voices" she uses for the characters are terrible and one in particular she mumbles. I listen in the car on my commute and even at full volume I can't make out a lot of the dialog.
I might give up on this one and reserve a print copy from the local library.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Pass on this

This novel feels like a filler, trying to ride on popularity of Practical Magic. Difficult to finish and characters not compelling. And the narrator is truly dreadful!


11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A satisfying and magical story

Ever wonder about the aunts in Practical Magic? Wonder no more-the Owens sisters and their brother and cousin come of age in 1960s NYC. The narration is charming and really captured the feeling of the era while keeping things magical. If you liked Practical Magic, this story of Franny and Jet when they were young witches will enchant you. I want more Owens family books!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Hard to hear

The narration needs to have the volume equalized. She would whisper and I'd lean forward to hear, and then she would be real loud and blast my eardrums. Not as bad with earbuds. But I really enjoyed the story.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved it!

The narrator made this story even better. It was so good, I listened to it again right after I finished it the first time.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Am I reading the same book as everyone else?!

This book is awful! I'm blown away by all the positive reviews. The story is childish and thrown together with little to no character development. The writing was sloppy and callow. The narrator's voices for the characters were obnoxious. I made it about 3 hours through this story and I'm finally calling it quits.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful