So, I finally read through all of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic books. I did it in a weird way too. For those that don’t know, the four books were released in a sort of Star Wars type of way.  

Release Order: 

  • Practical Magic, released in 1995 
  • The Rules of Magic, released in 2017 
  • Magic Lessons, released in 2020 
  • The Book of Magic, released in 2021 

Having said that, the books aren’t released chronologically in that order. 

Chronological Order: 

  • Magic Lessons 
  • The Rules of Magic 
  • Practical Magic 
  • The Book of Magic 

 This is how I read them: 

  • Practical Magic 
  • The Book of Magic 
  • Magic Lessons 
  • The Rules of Magic 

Is it important to read it in one manner or another? Well, I guess that depends on how well you retain storylines. It also depends on whether or not you’ve already read Practical Magic. If you haven’t read it, then I’d suggest starting with Magic Lessons since it covers the era when the progenitor of the Owen curse lived. If you’ve already read Practical Magic, then I’d read The Rules of Magic and then The Book of Magic since those three follows the aunts, Gillian, and Sally.  

Or, read them in whatever way you prefer. Whatever floats your boat… or floats your witch. 

Before I get to the battle of which witch book, I liked the most, here’s a little summary of each book and a short critique of them. For this list, I’ll go by chronological as stated above. 

Magic Lessons 

Goodreads Score: 4.21/5 
My Score: 3/5 
This is where it began. The main narrative follows the life of Maria Owens as she battles with love and life in 1600s rural England and then across the pond in Salem. Massachusetts. If you’ve read any of the other books in the series, you’ll find out the origin of the iconic house, where the Rum chocolate cake comes from, the curse that kills anyone that loves the Owen clan. You learn it all. Hoffman does a really good job crafting the story and connects the origin story to the original book fairly well. There’s some exploration into the trials and tribulations of Maria Owens and I really enjoyed reading this book. I will say, I didn’t care for aspects of the ending. I thought Maria got off easy considering that whole concept of you get back three times what you give. So, for someone that curses all of her future relations, she gets a happy ending. 

The Rules of Magic 

Goodreads: 3.99/5 
My Score: 4/5 
Okay, this book is where it’s at. If Hoffman didn’t write Magic Lessons and just used this book to serve as the prequel to Practical Magic, I’d be all there for it. This story takes place a few hundred years after the events of Magic Lessons. It follows the life of Jet, Franny, and Vincent Owens as they attempt to balance love and the curse that will eventually kill everyone they love. This is one of those narratives that doesn’t really have a bad guy. Typically, with the rest of the series, there’s some type of physical bad guy, and then the supernatural one (aka the curse). 

Practical Magic 

Goodreads: 3.75/5 
My Score: 3/5 

You should just read my review of this novel here.  

The Book of Magic 

Goodreads: 4.19/5 
My Score: 3/5 
So, out of all these books, I hated the ending of this one. It was so anticlimactic in its human and supernatural conflict that if it hadn’t been for my love of the characters, I’d have scored this a 2/5. There are three generations of Owens in the last book of the series. The story picks up when the latest generation turn into adults. They pretty much face the same challenges as featured in previous books, but Kylie tries to break the curse and ends up going on a world traveling adventure and explores the history of the Owens family. You know, I don’t want to get into spoilers or anything, but as I’m talking about this one, I can’t help just think that it’s the weaker book in the series. Mainly because it soft reboots the main sisters in Practical Magic which I really didn’t care for but didn’t think about until just now. So, in light of that: 
Goodreads: 4.19/5 
My Score: 2/5 

Overall Thoughts 

Overall thoughts about the series as a whole. I think that Hoffman is like Stephen King in that the endings are not always satisfying. I also thought that the curse was treated like some stupid human. Sometimes evading the curse is as easy as faking your death or simply crushing a deathwatch beetle or even just not saying the words “I love you.” It’s a bit too easy. I didn’t care for the fact that there were some hard rules for magic, but you could simply escape a curse that affected everyone in that bloodline unless you faked your death. I mean, if U.S. Marshalls can find you after something like that, then why can’t a magical curse? 

Overall, I enjoyed reading the series even though I thought the endings of three of the books could’ve been a lot better. The characters are great, however, and their struggle with love is what makes the books so compelling to read.  

So, without further ado, here is my ranking of the books from worst to best: 

  • The Book of Magic 
  • Practical Magic 
  • Magic Lessons 
  • The Rules of Magic 

What about you? Have you read these books yet? If so, which was your favorite and why?  

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