Book Review: Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman Book Review
magic lessons book review

Title: Magic Lessons
Author: Alice Hoffman
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Publisher: Simon Shuster
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Pages: 416
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Rating: Book Club It
Disclaimer: Mild spoilers.

summary book review

In an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.

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.

Magic Lessons is a celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling. (Goodreads)

Thoughts book review

“This is how you begin in this world. These are the lessons to be learned. Drink chamomile tea to calm the spirit. Feed a cold and starve a fever. Read as many books as you can. Always choose courage. Never watch another woman burn. Know that love is the only answer.

― Alice Hoffman, Magic Lessons

I love witches. I can’t get enough of books about witches, witchcraft, and anything else witchy and magical.

Practical Magic is and will always be one of the best books about witches ever written. The movie is phenomenal too if you haven’t seen it. I devoured Practical Magic and instantly found myself loving not just the story but the way Hoffman wrote. When Magic Lessons came out I knew I needed to read the origin of the Owens family. And this book most definitely did not disappoint.

This book was magical. Just magical. Magic Lessons was enchanting in so many ways, I couldn’t put it down from the first page. Hoffman has a way of writing that is so full of magic it’s impossible to not fall under her spell. (Yes, all puns absolutely intended.)

Magic Lessons takes us back to the 1600s to the time when witches were hunted and killed for their magic. Brewing special tea, owning a black cat, having an odd birthmark or red hair were all things that could be accused of as witchcraft. It wasn’t an easy world to live in and Maria Owens, the matriarch of the Owens family, discovers this. She learns the rules of magic and creates the curse that will haunt her family for hundreds of years to come.

“Do as you will, but harm no one
What you will give will be returned to you threefold

― Alice Hoffman, Magic Lessons

Anyone who’s read my reviews before knows the first thing I want to talk about when it comes to witch books is the witchcraft. What can I say, I love magic. The first thing I fell in love with when I read Practical Magic was the way Hoffman created the magic in her world. It had unique characteristics, but also so many elements that were rooted in the actual practice of witchcraft. I love the way she writes the magic in her books, tieing it into the narrative so seamlessly. She constantly writes out spells and potions or lists multiple magical ways of doing something. They tend to be lengthy paragraphs, but I never felt like it weighed down the story or my reading. I looked forward to every inclusion of magic. Magic was like its own character in her writing, so developed and intricate, and I couldn’t wait for it to show up on the page.

So many times writers write books about witches and there’s little magic or elements to make it feel like a book about actual witches. Just because there is magic does not mean it is a book about witches. There is so much more to being a witch than casting a spell and Hoffman doesn’t forget that. Magic Lessons made me feel the way I always want to when reading about witches. That magic is real.

I also really enjoyed the story. It did start off relatively slow, but after about the first third of the book it picked up and eventually switched perspective to Maria’s daughter Faith. Faith’s story explores left-handed, or black magic, and it was interesting getting to see what that was and its effects on a witch. It also added a darker element to the story and the stakes really increased.

“You walk into the dark and the darkness abides within you.”

― Alice Hoffman, Magic Lessons

Another part of this book that I enjoyed was the way it explored love and family and what one will do for those things. It gives us the origins of the Owens curse, but also the fallout and Maria’s feelings towards that curse. And eventually how she learned that love is really what saves us all in the end. This book explores so many aspects of human life that it’s very raw and emotional.

I absolutely loved Magic Lessons. If you’re a fan of Practical Magic or just witchy books in general, I definitely recommend this one. If anything, read it for Hoffman’s spellbinding talent and ability to weave together a story so emotional, raw, and enchanting you’ll never forget it.

Have you read Magic Lessons? Are you planning to? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

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