Title: Magic Lessons.
Series: Practical Magic #0.1.
Writer(s): Alice Hoffman.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster.
Format: Advance Review Copy.
Release Date: October 6th, 2020.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
Some cry wolf when they’re facing the unexplainable, some rush to raise pitchforks against those that you assume to deal with Satan, some rally a community, preferring not to be alone in their battle, to bring death to those who are merely trying to find their own place in a cruel world. But even with magic at their disposition, witches aren’t only out to curse vulnerable humans in their plight towards freedom, happiness, and peace. They too are just as exposed as anyone else to another of life’s greatest mysteries: love. Serving as a prequel to both Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic, writer Alice Hoffman presents fans with the opportunity to discover the origin story of their beloved characters and their pivotal history through terrifying times for women but, especially, for witches.
What is Magic Lessons about? Covering the years 1664 to 1696, the story follows the unforgettable legacy of the Owens family, starting with Hannah Owens who discovers a baby abandoned in a snowy field in rural England, the very child who will grow up to become the indomitable matriarch of the Owens family, Maria Owens. Spanned over multiple years, this story explores the intergenerational journey of this family through the Salem witch trials and extraordinary episodes of love and loss. Whether they encounter the beauty that life has to offer or the mayhem that comes with the life of a witch, it is through endurance and a sheer sense of determination to challenge faith that they demonstrate their most human facets, one where love might be the answer to everything.
“Fate is what you make of it. You can make the best of it, or you can let it make the best of you.”
— Alice Hoffman
Without having read any other book by writer Alice Hoffman, I can safely say that this prequel reads perfectly as a stand-alone novel and remains a brilliant entry point to the author’s masterful storytelling skills. The story doesn’t solely focus on one of the Owens but rather looks at each of them throughout different segments in the book while giving us a stellar and convincing evolution of their characters throughout the hardships they face and the adversity they overcome. Interestingly, writer Alice Hoffman doesn’t utilize much dialogue in this story and rather allows her unparalleled magic with words to deliver what is a genuine blend of historical fiction with romance rather than fantasy. It is how she brings to life the whimsical and enchanting universe of witches through lore craft that allows the characters to retain a witchy aura, not to mention the incredibly detailed descriptions of herbology, spells, curses, and witchcraft that is interspersed throughout the narrative that makes you wonder if the author isn’t one of them too.
While her writing justifies most of the novel’s success, it is astonishing to watch writer Alice Hoffman celebrate life and love throughout the Owens’s bloodline. The story does kick off a bit slow, drowning the reader in witchcraft and gently plunging them in an emotionally-weighted atmosphere, but it is further along, with the help of the omniscient narrative, that readers aren’t purely subjected to the trials of love as they discover the terror of curses born out of negative emotions, existing only to appease a desire for revenge and to attempt to correct a felt injustice. There’s simply no denying that writer Alice Hoffman intricately understands her witchy universe, the challenges that women and witches had to face during the 17th century, and the power of love to overcome any and all predicaments. Her storytelling will simply mesmerize you through and through.
Magic Lessons is a spell-binding origin story exploring the Owens family and their ordeal with love, obsession, and faith.