Jee reviews ‘The Book of Magic’ by Alice Hoffman @SimonSchuster #UnpopularOpinion #bookreview #TheBookOfMagic #PracticalMagicFinale #PracticalMagicSeries #series #magicalrealism #witches #favauthor #fiction

Title/Author: The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 396

In a nutshell (Publisher):

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.

My thoughts:

This was such a tough book to review. I mulled it over for weeks. Reason being, I loved all its predecessors, but had a hard time enjoying this and felt so guilty about it!

Ever since starting the series, I fell in love with Hoffman’s writing, and have started to read her other books. So when Hoffman announced the publication of ‘The Book of Magic’, I knew I had had to read it and was excited when my request for a galley was approved!

When it began with“Some stories begin at the beginning and others begin at the end, but all the best stories begin in a library.”  I was in love, but only till the first third of the story, after that it was all just, too, slow for my liking, because there wasn’t much that was happening in between, and I needed more of Kylie and her boyfriend, Gideon, to be invested in her urgency to safe him. Anyway, let me begin with an overview of the story.

Like all brilliant stories, this too, began in a library, and usually, it was a sign of a happy, promising start. But not in this case, because of the presence of a deathwatch beetle, a bad omen which meant death is near, that ‘the past was over and the future no longer existed’, and death was coming for Jet. But it didn’t end there, because someone in the family was in love and when an Owens falls in love it never ended well with person who fell in love with them because of Maria Owens’s curse.

None of Sally’s two daughters knew they came from a descendent of witches. While Antonia didn’t warm up to the idea, Kelly had no choice but to accept it or she would never be able to save Gideon who was in a coma. To do so, she had to practice left-hand magic to break the curse set by Maria Owens. She was determined to do so with or without her family’s help. Fearing she could be in trouble, on her trail was the rest of the Owens family, who followed her from Massachusetts to Essex England where it all began.

First, what I loved. There were the beautiful quotes throughout, about love, life and death:

“What begins can end. What is done can be undone. What is sent in the world comes back to you three times over.”

“But stories change, depending on tells them, and stories are nothing if you don’t have someone to tell them to.”

“Do as you will but harm no one, what you will give will be returned to you threefold.” (This was repeated quite a few times throughout the book and the series)

“You can live a whole lifetime without knowing what was right in front of you. Seeing has little to do with opening your eyes; it’s what you feel inside that counts, it’s what you know without anyone telling you.”

“Fate was what you made of it. You could make the best of it, of it would make the best of you.”

“Words were everything, stories were more powerful than any weapon, books changed lives.”

“Life was like a book, Jet thought, but one you would never finish.”

I enjoyed reminiscing the time I spent with Maria (Magic Lessons), Franny, Jet, Vincent and (The Rules of Magic), Gillian and Sally (Practical Magic). I needed it since it had been a while since I last read its prequels. It was great ‘meeting’ Franny and Vincent again. It was like saying hi to old friends. And Sally, dear Sally, who finally met with someone she could spend the rest of her life with, although, I really thought it wasn’t necessary, but I guess to give the finale a happily-ever-after ending, the author thought it fitting. After all, Sally deserved to love and be loved!

Another reason I love Hoffman’s books (besides her flawless writing) is her characters that are realistic, compelling and complex. In ‘The Book of Magic’ however, the new characters that were introduced, weren’t as strong and well-developed as compared to the previous series. And resolutions often came too easily, coincidences felt forced.

I wanted so much to enjoy this finale, because of how much I enjoyed its predecessors. Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me. The main reason being it dragged too much in the middle. I was hoping to read more about Kylie and her boyfriend, and their relationship, since this story centered around them, but it got lost in the midst of everything else that was happening, and the story dragged on with its meandering plot with nothing much to offer, and just too many new characters that went in and out of the story.

Having said that, I thought the Owens’s happy ending rounded up the series satisfyingly. Loose ends tied up in a beautiful bow, everything and everyone was where it should be.

The Book of Magic is about family and fate, having hope and fighting for what we want, and learning what it truly means to love. If you’re looking for a book filled with magic, curses and family secrets, maybe you’d enjoy this. It can be read as a standalone but for a better understanding of the family, read it’s predecessors first.

Thank you Simon & Schuster for sending me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Have you read this? If yes, did you enjoy it. If you haven’t, do you intend to? Please share with me your thoughts!

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