#TheBookofMagic (#PracticalMagic 2.0) by #AliceHoffman #NetGalley #ARCReview

From Goodreads: “Master storyteller Alice Hoffman brings us the conclusion of the Practical Magic series in a spellbinding and enchanting final Owens novel brimming with lyric beauty and vivid characters.

The Owens family has been cursed in matters of love for over three-hundred years but all of that is about to change. The novel begins in a library, the best place for a story to be conjured, when beloved aunt Jet Owens hears the deathwatch beetle and knows she has only seven days to live. Jet is not the only one in danger—the curse is already at work.

A frantic attempt to save a young man’s life spurs three generations of the Owens women, and one long-lost brother, to use their unusual gifts to break the curse as they travel from Paris to London to the English countryside where their ancestor Maria Owens first practiced the Unnamed Art. The younger generation discovers secrets that have been hidden from them in matters of both magic and love by Sally, their fiercely protective mother. As Kylie Owens uncovers the truth about who she is and what her own dark powers are, her aunt Franny comes to understand that she is ready to sacrifice everything for her family, and Sally Owens realizes that she is willing to give up everything for love.

The Book of Magic is a breathtaking conclusion that celebrates mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, and anyone who has ever been in love.”

Last year close to Halloween I took the time to read Practical Magic (review here) and Magic Lessons (review here) by Alice Hoffman and really enjoyed them. So when NetGalley and Simon and Schuster offered me the chance to read and offer my honest review of The Book of Magic (Amazon), I applied and was thrilled to have been chosen. While last year’s Magic Lessons went back in time to the start of the Owens family curse, The Book of Magic is set in present day, with the characters from Practical Magic aged about 20 years.

Going into a book and knowing it is the end of a series is a little bittersweet, because the Owens family has grown on me. I was first introduced to them with the movie (Shock! Horrors! She watched the movie first!) but didn’t read the book until last year, right before Magic Lessons came out. I quickly became a fan of Alice Hoffman’s writing.

Let me just say that I could totally see the same actresses reprising their roles for the movie version of this book. Because I was introduced to the Owens family through the film, that’s how I picture them. But who would I picture as Vincent? Hard to say. Because I haven’t read The Rules of Magic, where we see Vincent as a younger man, I’d be hard-pressed to imagine. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if they make a movie out of this book, too.

The gist of this book is Kylie, one of Sally’s daughters, trying to break the Owens curse Maria hoisted upon the family 300 years before, because the man she loves was in a terrible accident and is in a coma. She gets ahold of the book of dark magic that Faith Owens used hundreds of years ago and heads to England, where the original Sussex County and Owens family originated.

Franny and Jet and Sally and Gillian and Antonia know they have to stop Kylie, but before they can go after her, the death watch beetle appears. Who is it for? As the publisher’s blurb mentions, it is for Jet, and you know there’s no escaping death, no magic that can reverse the inevitable conclusion.

For a book series that deals with curse for loving someone, you do feel a lot of love between the characters. The familial bond, the instant connection to strangers who won’t be strangers much longer. There’s a lot of emotion in this book, so if you’re one who cries at books, have some tissues on hand because there are plenty of instances where one could shed a tear.

There’s also this incredible darkness in this book that I also found in Magic Lessons when the subject deals with the dark arts, a feeling of helplessness that can only be evoked by an author of the caliber of Alice Hoffman. I had a hard time with these sections, because my heart has never felt so dark, not even when suffering personal loss. What motivates someone to hurt others? It certainly makes for a more interesting story, let me tell you that!

Is the curse finally broken? Can the Owens family truly love someone without fear of death? You’ll just have to read the book to find out. While the beginning of the book gives some of the backstory, it felt incomplete to me, so I do recommend you read Practical Magic and Magic Lessons first before you tackle The Book of Magic for a more fleshed out explanation of who is who and what is what.

What I love about the Practical Magic books is that even though in my everyday life I don’t believe in magic, it’s totally believable in the books because of the weaving of tales and depth to the stories. I want to try some of the herbal concoctions for illness that are mentioned throughout the books. I will definitely be going back and reading The Rules of Magic (Amazon), which deals with Franny, Jet and Vincent’s earlier lives when they began unraveling the mystery and curse of the family.

For more reviews, visit www.bargain-sleuth.com

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