The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman
Before picking up The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman on a whim one day at work, I had not finished a book in at least two months. I have a bad habit of checking out all kinds of books from the library, reading them halfway, then finding another that captures my interest and not wanting to finish the one I’d previously started. But this book had me under a spell from chapter one (lame pun completely intended) and I finished it in about a week.
The vibrant characters captured my attention first. The Owens siblings are quite a trio: Franny, the eldest, sharply intelligent and headstrong, with a penchant for birds; Jet, shy yet deeply in tune with others’ hidden thoughts; and Vincent, reckless and charming but fearful of his own fate. Their mother, Susanna, is a witch who would rather deny her heritage and keep her children in the dark than risk letting them develop their abilities and suffer the painful effects of a curse placed on their family since the 1600s. Despite their parents’ efforts to keep them safe, however, the children’s suspicions about their lineage only grow as they explore their talents. Then their mysterious Aunt Isabelle invites them to stay with her for a summer, and the stage is set for the events that will change their lives forever.
Although the novel has a strong fantasy element, at its heart, it’s a coming-of-age story about family bonds and the power of love and being true to oneself. Lush descriptions grace every page of the book, making the characters come alive and evoking a sense of nostalgia for a place and time where I’ve never lived (New York in the 1950s and ‘60s). If you’re looking for a lighter, yet still moving, story to help you kick off these early spring days, this is the book for you.
--Natalie, Part-time Library Assistant