Travel back to 1600s Salem in this standalone prequel to The Rules of Magic and Practical Magic.
Good to know
First in series
Why I love it
Author, Take Me Apart
I’m a sucker for magic. I’ll happily spend hours discussing the movements of the zodiac, and I never met a tarot deck I didn’t want to own. I also love brilliant genre fiction and complicated female characters—so basically, Alice Hoffman’s new novel, Magic Lessons, had me at hello.
If Magic Lessons were a potion, its recipe might look something like this: Start with equal parts family saga, feminist creed, and love story. Combine them in the cauldron of 17th-century America (maybe, say, the Salem witch trials?). Add a whole lot of magic and folklore. Sprinkle with revenge. And voilà: the story of Maria Owens, a young witch whose quest for justice takes her into the dangerous world of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where she lays down a curse that will stalk her family for generations.
I adored this book. The prose is so lyrical it feels like an incantation, and Hoffman makes a distant historical moment seem as real and immediate as the present day. It’s a prequel to Hoffman’s bestselling Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic, and it showcases the same seamless blend of magic and reality. But you definitely don’t have to have read those books to be riveted by Maria’s story. Magic Lessons is a universal tale about love and survival. Any reader craving a dose of the impossible will be spellbound by this tender, powerful book.
Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.
When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.