A Witch of a Read with Magic Lessons: A Review

A Witch of a Read with Magic Lessons: A Review


It’s time to get witchy with this wonderful new prequel from Alice Hoffman.


About the Book:

Cover of Magic LessonsFrom 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.

Infused with Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her graceful, resplendent, hypnotic storytelling this exquisite novel is, quite simply, magical.


‘She was found on a January day in a field where the junipers grew, wound in a blue blanket with her name carefully stitched along the border with silk thread.’ (page 1)


We were in the dark depths our lockdown when I picked this beauty up which means I read an advance manuscript for all those Sherlock Holmes detectives out there. It was the perfect witchy-balm for those dark days. I was able to sink into a world of herbs, betrayal, magic and everything that Alice Hoffman just does so well. If you haven’t yet watched or read Practical Magic (remember this is a safe space, you are allowed to enjoy both book and movie here), then please do. It is a wonderful exploration of real witches — I know, I just don’t mean Harry Potter or Terry Pratchett here. Here we’re talking Salem witch trials where women were persecuted, were ‘othered’ for being different; however, if you’d rather watch the movie, then you get Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock — put the popcorn on, I’m there.

Magic Lessons is the prequel to Practical Magic and both fans and reviewers have been dying to hear the story of Maria Owens as well as the tragic story of love that made her so bitter, so righteous and so cold. What Magic Lessons does is tell us the story of how wonderful, fierce, vulnerable and powerful Maria Owens was, and her cursing of all Owens women to a life of heartbreak and death was merely a precaution against heartbreak. Now, I may be making this sound like a very lovey-dovey story, that a woman wronged will destroy lives but, while there is a pinch of that — something which I really enjoyed about this book — there is still this wonderful story of lineage, history, witches and how choices can have their consequences as well as their respective prices. On top of all that complexity is this idea that women (especially our protagonists) are powerful, misunderstood, and capable of healing (even in the most witchy ways).

I truly adored this novel. It was witchy, complex, hypnotic and so very, very compelling. Light the candles, get the incense going and jump in (broom and all).


3 out of 5 stars


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Happy Reading!