Magic Lessons: Book #1 of the Practical Magic Series (1) - book cover
  • Publisher : Simon & Schuster
  • Published : 07 Sep 2021
  • Pages : 416
  • ISBN-10 : 1982108851
  • ISBN-13 : 9781982108854
  • Language : English

Magic Lessons: Book #1 of the Practical Magic Series (1)

In this " bewitching" (The New York Times Book Review) 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 "Nameless 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 "heartbreaking and heart-healing" (BookPage) celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman's masterful storytelling.

Editorial Reviews

"Storytelling is in Hoffman's bones, and the skill with which she dispenses information and compresses time, so that a year passes in a sentence, so that a tragedy witnessed becomes the propeller for a hundred-page subplot, is (forgive me) bewitching. My current reality feels chaotic and confusing; to have a narrator take my hand and tell me that linden root and yarrow will cure a racing heart, that witches turn silver dull with their touch, is an undiluted pleasure... Hoffman's book swept me away during a time I most needed it." -New York Times Book Review

"Hoffman writes deftly, and often beautifully, about nature, and she can plot like, well, a witch, casting a spell on her reader to flip pages, reading ahead for plot twists... Magic Lessons is a compelling reminder of the past, which as it turns out, is not distant enough from the present." -Boston Globe

"A gorgeous new novel you won't want to miss" - Bustle

"Vivid and enchanting, with a can't-miss-it foray into the Salem Witch Trials, Magic Lessons is another sublime entry in an arresting series." - Esquire

"In Hoffman's luminous prose, all characters, even the villains, are not only vividly, but also compassionately, rendered... Hoffman adeptly highlights that how one uses a talent, selflessly or selfishly, has a sweeping impact on many lives, meaning that one should always choose courage, and that love is the only answer." -Booklist

"Hoffman offers an eye-opening account of how single women were treated in the 17th century, particularly when their knowledge or intelligence was deemed threatening. [This] page-turning adventure is thoroughly enjoyable. Hoffman's redemptive story of a fiercely independent woman adds an engrossing, worthwhile chapter to the series." -Publisher's Weekly

"Calling all Alice Hoffman stans. Along the way, [Magic Lessons] shows us how smart, independent women were treated in the 17th century. Don't miss it." -theSkimm

"Full of wonderfully strong women, fascinating history and a plot that doesn't stop spinning, this book is a treat." -AARP Magazine

"Mysterious, magical and with important lessons about love and life, I cannot wait for it!" -Parade

"Heartbreaking and heart-healing…intense and gorgeous…This is an impressive tale, equal parts love story, history, and horror….The whole thing is absolutely riveting and riveting from start to finish." - BookPage

"A very emotional, mystical, engaging read. The characters in this novel are brilliantly drawn with Hoffman's skillful writing... It is a magical read." - The Free Lance–Star<...

Readers Top Reviews

Lucy PidgeonPsWolfeG
I have always loved the film Practical Magic, it’s one of my all time favourites! When I realised it was based on a book I rushed to get it and then never read it. When I discovered that a few of my book club buddy’s wanted to read the series it made perfect sense to do a buddy read and what better time than Halloween month? I have always wanted to know more about the Owen’s family and how the curse came about and this book certainly delivered on all the witchy history. The descriptions of different cures for ailments and needs were fascinating and I loved how they were littered throughout the book. The herbal remedies have always intrigued me and it was great to see witchcraft shown in a more natural light rather than the usual hocus pocus! This may be a work of fiction but it’s clear to see that Alice Hoffman has drawn on the historical Salem witch trials for this story. It’s horrendous to think what women lived through in the 1600’s and how owning just a small amount of herbs or healing the common cold could sentence you to death! Maria Owens certainly had a rough start to life but I’m so pleased that Hannah was the one to find her. I was gutted to see Hannah leave the story so early but it was obvious throughout that she’d had a profound effect on Maria. As Maria grew up I kept finding myself shocked at her age. Some of the things she had witnessed or gone through were horrific but to go through it as a child was unthinkable. She carried herself in a very mature way but given what she’d been through she had to grow up quite quickly. Faith was an interesting person. My heart broke for her at the beginning of her story and can’t imagine how it must of felt to be under Martha’s care but I did find it hard to warm to her. I could understand why she had so much resentment and her actions I felt were sometimes justified but that didn’t always make me like her. When I finished this I wanted to dive straight in to the next in the series. I am well and truly hooked to the Owen’s family and can’t wait to see how their story develops. If you’re after a story of female solidarity with a witchy twist then this is for you!
The Lotus Readers
Halloween Post - Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman and The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow Maria is found as a baby by wise woman Hannah Owens, who brings her up with the old ways. Maria learns how to grow a healing garden, to use herbs for ailments of body and mind, and help women with problems caused by love. However, Maria’s power isn’t just learned. She has the mark of a blood witch from her birth mother, and has been chosen by her familiar Cadin who is a crow. Maria feels she must be the result of a woman being fooled by love and vows not to be taken in by a man. Tragically, Hannah is burned as a witch and Maria knows she must run to save her life. She meets her mother and birth father, and realising there is no room in their love for a third person she takes a gift of red boots and sails to the island of Curacao where she has been sold into servitude for a period of five years. Here, her vow against love will be tested. Taking us through the dangerous years of the 17th Century, where Puritanical communities like Salem in Massachusetts were whipped to hysteria, and would not suffer a witch to live. Hoffman’s prequel to Practical Magic takes us back to the beginnings of the Owens family and the complicated relationship between their power and the very human need to be loved. I had been waiting for this prequel for a long time and I wasn’t disappointed. It only took me moments to be in Hoffman’s magical world thanks to the layers of description she uses to create an unusual atmosphere. In some senses she creates an instantly recognisable sense of place. Her descriptions of Massachusetts, and later, Brooklyn are full of local floral and fauna, the sense of wilderness and pioneering spirit within these early settlers of the Americas. It is dark, foggy, wet and often icily cold with dangerous animals and even more dangerous people. By contrast the time spent travelling to the West Indies and the beautiful island of Curacao are vivid. In the daytime full of colour, exotic flowers and birds and I could feel the sun on my face, the warm sand beneath my feet and the incredible animals such as the turtles and tiny hummingbirds. By night, when Maria and her friend explore the island, it is still warm, with a vast sky full of stars. On the other hand there are times when these places seem otherworldly as we see them through the eyes of a witch: the magical properties of plants, the incredible loyalty of an wild animal like Keeper the wolf, and the witches’ power to control these elements to their advantage. It’s our world but not quite. The difference is viewing it through the lens of history, but most unimportantly, by magic. There were times I didn’t fully understand Maria, although she’s the more sympathetic character of the three generations. She protects herself against love after seeing what it did to her mother, but t...
E Pearl
I enjoyed this book a historical witch fiction novel. It was well researched and the plot moved along a good pace. The only problem I had was when I counted it as part of the Owens' family lore. As a standalone the book is great, but as a prequel to "Practical Magic" and "Rules of Magic" it feels a little forced. Some things mentioned in the other books about Maria Owens have been retconned to expand the story and increase the novel length. To sum up: Enjoy it for what it is, but don't expect it to seamlessly mesh with its predecessors.
Alice Hoffman's longtime readers will know that women of the Owens bloodline, practitioners of the Nameless Art, have suffered from troubles of the heart for generations. "Beware of love, Maria Owens had written on the first page of her journal. Know that for our family, love is a curse. The curse, according to Maria's writings, was simply "Ruination for any man who falls in love with them." How did the curse come about? We learned a little of it in The Rules of Magic which gives us the backstory of how Sally and Gillian came to live with their aunts Franny and Jet and how Franny and Jet ended up living in the historic Owens family home. For instance, we know that Maria Owens fell in love with, and was ultimately betrayed by, the witchfinding magistrate of Salem, John Hathorne. But where and how? Magic Lessons gives us Maria Owens' complicated story, beginning with her life as a foundling in Essex, England, where she is taken in and raised by Hannah Owens, a practitioner. When Hannah foresees and suffers her own horrible fate, Maria leaves England and searches for safety, having been sold by her stepfather (for she eventually meets her mother) for indentured service to a captain on a vessel sailing to the Dutch colony of Curaçao. There she must work for five years for a Dutch family to earn her freedom. She does and just as she is going to be free she meets their guest, a tradesman by the name of John Hathorne. After a few fateful days, Maria is left heartbroken, pregnant, and bound toward the Salem colony of Massachusetts, to catch up with the man she is sure she loves. Only does he? And does he love her? With so much of the magic of the Nameless Art centered on love (and its heartaches), Maria has failed to listen to Hannah Owens cardinal rule- Always love someone who will love you back. She will pay a heavy price for this mistake, as will her daughter Faith, and the young Jewish man who saves Maria's and Faith's lives, just as Maria has saved his. But given Maria's uttered curse, perhaps Samuel Dias' price is just the price of happiness. Magic Lessons is both a novel of historical fiction, looking at the era of the Salem Witch Trials, and a beautiful novel of fantasy, giving us the Owens family history. The elements of the Marrano history of the Sephardim in Portugal were a wonderful touch to the story, as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I am, however, now hungry for the story of Hannah Owens, and for that of the enchanting Catherine Durant, another practitioner. You will never satisfy us, Alice! After reading, I promptly listened to Sutton Foster's beautiful narration of the novel to enjoy the story all over again. Lessons 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...
Bonnie Ford
Moving, magical, heartbreaking, beautiful, everything I would expect from an Alice Hoffman novel. I have read Rules of Magic, and Practical Magic as well, and I am just so happy this exists. Magic Lessons is the reason for all of it. The curse, the witches, the home, all of the best and worst. My favorite part of all three novels is the last page. I love the last lines the most, they always stick with me. And I always plant lavender for luck.

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