ARC Review: Magic Lessons (The Prequel to Practical Magic). ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magic Lessons: The Prequel to Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

From New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman comes the origin story of her beloved novel and basis for the cult classic film Practical Magic—taking us on a captivating journey to the Salem witch trials, featuring the indomitable matriarch of the Owens family, Maria.


It’s no secret that love has plagued the Owens family for centuries. But when did the curse begin, and why? It all began with Maria Owens, who arrived in America in 1680, with a baby in tow…


Born with pitch-black hair and pale green eyes, Maria was abandoned in the English countryside by her birth mother and raised by Hannah Owens who warned her, “Always love someone who will love you back.” She inherits Hannah’s Grimoire—a magical book of enchantments that include instructions to heal illnesses, ingredients for soaps that restore youth, and spells that make a person burn with love for another. When Hannah dies in an attack, Maria leaves for Curacao, where she meets John Hathorne, a magistrate from Salem living freely for the first time in his life as he falls in love with Maria. But Hathorne soon abandons her, before Maria realizes she’s pregnant. When she gives birth to a red-headed baby girl, Faith, who possesses immense magical talent, Maria embarks on a voyage to Salem to face her destiny, with or without magic.


But aboard the ship bringing her to America, fate intervenes and she meets a man who will change her life, if she’ll only let him. Her journey, laced with secrets and truths, devastation and joy, magic and curses, will show her that love is the only answer, always.

Magic Lessons

The story of the woman who cursed the men who love the Owens women in Practical Magic!

Maria Owens is the matriarch of the Owens family in America. She was abandoned by her mother, raised for her first ten years by a kindly woman named Hannah Owens who practiced the “Unnamed Arts”. Maria learns more magic wherever she goes. The most important thing she was taught by Hannah was to “Always love someone that will love you back”.

I really liked this book, but you know how sometimes you can be reading a book and it is 500 pages and it seems to go by in a flash while another book you can read and read for hours and you will look and you aren’t even a quarter of the way through the book? That was this book. The world building and character development was terrific and there were long descriptions of just about everything.

I’m not saying that was bad, since I really enjoyed everything about this book, it just seemed to go slower than some books. Maria’s journey really begins when she is 10 and men come to her home and burn it down. Hannah tells her to run and she does. I enjoyed her journey and how she grows at each place she ends up. Maria learns new magic at every place she goes, new cures and spells which include the local flora and fauna.

Maria is a very likable character. She is unafraid and able to take care of herself. She has no problem going where she wants and talking to people whether it be to find passage on a ship or to find a job in a new city. I have to tell you though, I know it is history, but I get so frustrated at the stupidity of people and especially when it comes to things that happened in the past.

For example, how they would tie a witch to a chair and throw it into a body of water. If the woman floated, she was a witch, but if she sunk and drowned, she was innocent. I mean really, after they killed how many innocent people do they stop??? And the puritans, that think women are the cause of all evil because of Eve and the apple. So if a man feels something for a woman who isn’t his wife, it is the woman’s fault for putting some sort of spell on him or seducing him or whatever.

Though this is a book about love even more than it is a book about magic. It shows all different kinds of love such as obsessive love, jealous love, true love, false love, mean and cruel love. The fact that Maria has magic and can help to determine the course of love for others doesn’t mean she can help herself. Since people with magic can rarely perform it on or for themselves, when they do they pay a price and whatever they put out there is returned to them threefold.

“To any man who ever loves an Owens, let this curse befall you, let your fate lead to disaster, let you be broken in body and soul, and may it be that you never recover.”

Luckily the book doesn’t end with the curse. There are twists and turns and surprises throughout the story. I found myself in tears a few times. I liked the book for the emotional pull, for the magic and the whimsy, the animals and more. I also adore books like this where I can learn a bit of history I hadn’t known before. I never knew that in New York (which was named New Amsterdam) there once was a wall that separated the city from the wilds beyond and protected against attacks. That is how Wall Street got its name.

I voluntarily read & reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts & opinions are my own.


View all my reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.