Living with ghosts, swamp witches, history boring deep into the bones of the inhabitants of an old rickety manse, this story has lovely elements of gothic horror, including spooky children. I highly recommend it. I was fortunate to receive a digital copy from the publisher Crooked Lane Books through NetGalley.
Franny, Jet, and Vincent come of age in New York City, far removed from their ancestral home by their mother’s rules, which they continually break as they learn about their extraordinary powers. Jet is the first to break their mother’s rule of not falling in love, suffering the fate of the curse placed on their family by their ancestor Maria, cruelly deceived in romance. Allowing Franny to visit her great-aunts on her 17th birthday per family tradition opens up a whole new pathway in life for her, and fate brings all three siblings to live with their aunts, where they truly learn who they are and exactly how different. In this prequel to Practical Magic, readers learn about Vincent and how the curse affects an Owens’ male, for he disappears from his family in circumstances as extraordinary as his powers. As in her previous novel, Hoffman continues to weave magic into everyday life as though it’s normal, at least for the Owens family, who are all too aware of their status outside of mainstream. She shows the challenges of being a witch in societies that find it too difficult to accept what they don’t understand, even while hypocritically taking advantage of the witches’ gifts, one of which is unconditional kindness, for which they are never thanked. For readers who like a little magic with their complex family dynamics, this story will certainly be appreciated. For those living with differences not readily explained, the Owens siblings would be easily relateable. Hoffman’s characters retain their integrity within their limitations as witches, including not being able to save a loved own drowning because everyone knows witches float. The story ends where Practical Magic picks up, with Vincent’s granddaughters—orphans as far as they know—arriving at their great-aunt’s home to live with them.