Tag: Fantasy

The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

“Isn’t that what love makes you do? Go on trying, even when you’re through. Go on even when you’re made of ash, when there’s nothing inside you but the past.”

34037113The Rules of Magic is the story of the Owenses – Franny, who can talk to birds, Jet, who can read minds, and Vincent, the first boy in the family, who was a charmer since the day he was born. For the siblings, their life is bound by a set of rules since childhood – no walking in moonlight, no black clothes, no red shoes. As teenagers, they discover the truth of what they had long suspected, a secret their mother Susanna had kept from them – they are witches. This is why the neighbors avoid them, for there are so many rumours surrounding them. The family is cursed, for the one rule they must not break at any cost is this: never fall in love. The Owenses brought doom upon whoever they fell in love with, because in the 1600s, Maria Owens fell for the wrong man, a man who led witchhunts. More and more family secrets are unearthed when the siblings spend a summer with the mysterious and fascinating Aunt Isabelle.

The Rules of Magic is a prequel to Practical Magic, a book I’ve previously mentioned as one that’s really hard to find. However, you can read this book by itself even if you haven’t read Practical Magic. It is a rich piece of literature, filled with magical realism and romance. Alice Hoffman’s narrative technique is so brilliant that raw emotions scrape at your throat when you read this book. The story has shades of Chocolat and The Mistress of Spices, but I suppose all stories of witchcraft have certain similar themes. Each character stands on his or her own, the practical Franny, the shy Jet, and the rebellious Vincent. The plot may be described as tragic, but its beauty is beyond description.

A highly recommended read for fans of magical realism.

Rating: 4*/5

Goodreads | Amazon

I received an ARC from Simon & Schuster/Netgalley. This review is honest and unbiased.

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Carrie, by Stephen King

You don’t call yourself a fan of the King and then wait an eternity before reading his first book.

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Carrie is the story of a sixteen year old girl with telekinetic powers. Her mother, a religious fanatic (of the maniacal, giving-all-believers-a-bad-name kind), is convinced that the girl is a witch, and that her powers must be suppressed. Her mother almost killed her when she was a baby, because she saw her lift up a rattle without even touching it.

The other side to this story shows how bullied Carrie is in school, because she keeps to herself, does not have friends and is generally considered weird and unpopular. The novel begins with Carrie getting her first period in the gym shower, and all the girls in her class throwing tampons at her while jeering at her. A traumatized Carrie has no clue what to do, and is convinced she is about to die. Back home, her mother says the devil is calling to her and inviting her to sin.

We learn as we progress through the story that Carrie has destroyed the entire town in a fit of rage on her prom night.

What I liked most about the book was the format it was written in. I am not sure of the technical term here for this format, but the book uses excerpts from fictional books titled The Shadow Exploded (which is meant to be a nonfiction piece chronicling the events of the night Carrie did what she did), My Name Is Sue Snell (which is meant to be the autobiography of Carrie’s classmate Sue, who survives the prom; she is also the only classmate who shows some sympathy to Carrie), and We Survived the Black Prom. The actual story, from the POVs of Carrie, Sue, Margaret (Carrie’s mother) also finds its way between these fictional excerpts. It is interesting that some of the more recent works that I’ve read seem to follow a variation of this format, most notably, Luckiest Girl Alive and A Head Full Of Ghosts. I wonder if they were inspired by Carrie.

I would classify it as Fantasy, rather than Horror. It was not scary, and this is something I have said about every Stephen King I have read (because I have not yet had the courage to pick up The Shining). On the other hand, I also say that tattoos don’t hurt, and encourage people to get them, and they come at me with pitchforks afterwards. To me, Carrie did not seem scary. Great story, great writing, but in the Fantasy genre. The cover is definitely scarier than the story. Gore? Little bit. Way too little compared to some other works of Stephen King that I’ve read. Maybe he did not wanna go all out in the first book?

Do I recommend it? Yes. For the interesting characters (especially Margaret White. Her brand of fanatics have turned into a literary cliche now, but still worth reading), for the setting, and most of all, for the format.

Goodreads | Amazon