For those who have had the pleasure of reading the ever-popular Practical Magic series by Alice Hoffman, you’ll know that they provide the perfect witchy vibes to get you in the mood for a spooky season.
Our love for the series first began when we saw the movie Practical Magic as kids, which featured two young sisters who come into their powers amid the backdrop of their witchy aunt’s gothic manor.
About The Practical Magic Series
Alice Hoffman has written several books for this series, one of which dates way back to medieval Salem, featuring the first witch in the family line Maria, who places a love curse on their bloodline.
The novels move through time, with one based in the 1960s hippie-loving era, and all the way through to the modern day.
These books often confuse new readers, because there are two different ways of approaching them.
One way to read them is in chronological order, based on the book’s timeframe, and another is by order of publication.
Here, we list them in chronological order, but the choice of how you read these remains entirely up to you.
To find out more, simply keep reading below, as we take a closer look.
The first book that we’ll be looking at is Magic lessons. This book features Maria Owens, the first witch in the Owen’s bloodline.
She falls in love with a lawman in medieval Salem, and once he finds out her true identity, he vows to have her hanged.
As a result, she curses her own bloodline, so that none of her future family members have to suffer the painful consequences of love.
But, Maria begins to regret her decision as she falls in love with an illustrious sailor, and with her daughter beginning to dabble in the dark arts, she’ll need him more than ever.
- Immersive – Hoffman creates a highly immersive atmosphere that drives you right back to the period it’s set.
- Spooky – With elements of the book being set in the deep dark woods of New England, it’s perfect for getting you in the spooky mood.
- World Building – We love that even though Hoffman wrote this after Practical Magic, she does a great job of world-building and giving an in-depth insight into concepts re-visited in later books.
- Weighty – Compared to the other novels in the series, this is considered to be the weightiest read of them all.
- Archaisms – Some readers might struggle with the narrative, as it contains a lot of archaisms throughout the book.
The second in the series, called the Rules of Magic, follows sisters Jett and Bridget who are featured later in the Practical Magic series.
This takes place in the 1960s during their youth. They’re invited to stay with their strange, witchy aunt, who over the course of one glorious summer, teaches them everything they need to know about magic.
That is everything except how to not fall in love.
The Owens sisters must navigate their way through the curse on their family, and battle through heartbreak using the bonds of sisterhood.
- Feminist – As with all of Hoffman’s books, this one is incredibly female-driven, and places sisterhood at the forefront of the novel.
- Atmospheric – For those who are lovers of the 1960s, you’re going to adore this book. Hoffman captures the time period perfectly and uses it as a backdrop.
- Descriptive – Hoffman is great at providing detailed descriptions throughout her novels to really show the reader how her characters are feeling at any given moment.
- Setting – Although this will be a pro for many, some people might not care for the setting of the novel.
- Pacing – The pacing at the beginning of the novel might appear to be a little slow for some.
In the third book of the series, we find ourselves following sisters Gillian and Sally as they go to live with their aunts after their family is killed in a skiing accident.
As different from each other as fire and ice, Sally is a hapless romantic and bookworm, and Gillian is reckless and impulsive.
Their bond, however, lasts throughout their lives, and they must band together to defeat a spell gone wrong.
All the while, they try to navigate their way through the family curse and try not to fall in love. Easier said than done.
- Entertaining – We think that this was one of the most fun books in the series, and has lots of lighthearted moments peppered throughout.
- Movie Companion – This book, having had a film produced of the same name, can be read for further insights into some of our favorite characters.
- Nostalgic – Having been written during the 199s, readers will find lots of nostalgic moments in the novel.
- Similar To Movie – Some readers decide to skip this novel, as they find it to be too closely related to the movie of the same name.
- Angst – There is some angst in the novel, which doesn’t appeal to all readers.
The Book Of Magic by Alice Hoffman is the final installment of the series, and she truly brings her book to an epic conclusion.
Throughout the course of all of her novels, the Owens sisters have been trying to break the curse made on their bloodline by Maria, but with three generations of Owens women, can they finally put a stop to it?
Here, we see Sally’s daughters all grown up, and falling in love themselves.
As aunt Frances slips away, she leaves a note that might just give them the key to finally putting an end to their heartache.
- Epic – We’d say that this is the most epic novel of all three. Following three different narratives throughout, we travel with our characters as they each go on their own quest.
- Multiple Narrative – We enjoyed the fact that we got to see the story unravel from multiple narrators, which helped to give an extra dimension to the novel.
- Heartwarming – Bringing three generations together in one novel, this book is truly heartwarming and a pleasure to read.
- Sad At Parts – Some readers might find this difficult to read, as there are more sad moments featured than in other books.
- New Characters – Not everyone felt as though they connected with the youngest generation of Owens women in this book.
Other Magical Books
If you feel like reading a modern-day witch book, then we’d recommend this book written by Rachel Harrison.
It follows a young woman called Annie, as she moves to a small town where she develops a friendship with a woman called Sophie, who just so happens to be a witch.
- Relatable – We loved how despite being otherworldly magical beings, the characters were incredibly relatable.
- Feminist – We love the positive representation of female witches in this novel.
- Lighthearted – Great for picking up when you don’t want anything too heavy to read.
- Short – Some readers might find this book too short, and might feel like they’re craving more.
- Silly – The book, with all of its anthropomorphic spiders, which some people love, might not appeal to all.
Vivienne has just broken up with her boyfriend Rhys, and like any other sane witch, she decides to curse him.
After Rhys returns 10 years later, wreaking havoc in his wake, she realizes that it might not have been the best idea.
Now, they are forced to work together to save their town from absolute doom.
- Humorous – This is a very funny book, with lots of laugh out loud moments scattered throughout.
- Magic School – We love the magic school tropes in this novel, which remind us of Hogwarts.
- Celtic Mythology – There are some references to Celtic mythology throughout this book, which some readers will love.
- Easy Read – This one is a very easy read, and some might not find it to be challenging enough and crave something more serious.
- Chemistry – Some people thought that the two main protagonists lacked chemistry.
To sum up, we’d always recommend reading the Practical Magic Books in chronological order.
You can read them all as stand alone novels, but to get a better understanding of the books, and the history of the Owens family line, it’s always best to start with Magic Lessons.
If you liked this series, make sure to check out The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling, and Cackle by Rachel Harrison.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Difference Between The Film And The Book Of Practical Magic?
The key difference between the two is that the book is set in the suburbs, and the movie is set in the city.
What Was The Curse In Practical Magic?
The curse in the Practical Magic books is that any man they fall in love with must die.