Review: Rules of Magic | Alice Hoffman

“Do as you will, but harm no one. What you give will be returned to you threefold. Fall in love whenever you can.”

Book Info

Genre: Magic Realism
Number of Pages: 369
Perspective: Third Omniscient
Location: New York City, NY

The Rules of Magic follows three magical siblings from the 1960s to 1990s. Their ancestors were cursed so that no one in their family could ever love or else their significant other would face disastrous consequences. But this conflicts with one of the three major rules of magic: Fall in love whenever you can. For a complete summary, you can go here.

Book Review

TL;DR: The second half of this weak magical tale redeemed a slow start.

Rating: 3/5

Full Review: I read this book as a part of our Judging More Than Just The Cover Book Club podcast [check out the spoiler-filled discussion episode here]. This was our fourth episode, following Daisy Jones and the Six. So this review will be spoiler-free and the podcast will have more details and thorough analysis. We chose this book because it had strong female main characters, was a part of Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club, and was in the Book of the Month Box, which I LOVE. I, mean, $14.99 a month for a new release hardcover and $9.99 for any additional book AND free shipping? Can’t beat that. [Click here to get your first box for $9.99.]

I was super excited to read this book because even though I don’t like fantasy, I love magical realism and urban fantasy. This is because it doesn’t really take much world building to get into the story. I also love witch stories. However, I did not feel like this book was consistent or generous with the amount and types of magic. [This is discussed in more detail in the podcast.]

Also, there were so many plot points with potential, but none of them were seen through to fruition. I made up my own storylines to justify some of the poor writing decisions throughout. [This is also discussed in more detail in the podcast.]

The first half of this book was very boring. It is written in omniscient, which made me feel very distanced from the characters. It also created passive writing and more telling than showing. I finally got hooked with about 100 pages left when I finally started to feel some connection to the characters. But that was too little, too late. I went back and reread the first 50 pages, which made me appreciate the beginning elements. If I was reading this book on my own and not part of the podcast, I probably would have dropped it after 50 pages and not finished. However, I am glad I did since I did enjoy the story overall.

This is the prequel to Practical Magic, but you can read them both as standalone novels. However, if you were a fan of Practical Magic, then I think you would really enjoy getting the origin story of the aunts. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

Podcast Episode (With Spoilers)

My Rating

3 star

“Other people’s judgments were meaningless unless you allowed them to mean something.”

Judging More Than Just The Cover's participation in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program does not influence reviews.


Do you agree? Disagree?