Tag Archives: alice hoffman

Magical Romances: The Midnight Bargain, The Book of Magic, and Witch Please

13 Apr

Love always seems magical, but these three novels, where the protagonists are all witches, will have you spellbound.

The Midnight Bargain
C. L. Polk
The Midnight Bargain is C.L. Polk’s latest novel following their award winning Kingston Cycle Trilogy which also dealt with magic users.  The Midnight Bargain is a magical regency romance that will appeal to fans of Bridgerton series and Pride & Prejudice.  In the novel Beatrice is torn between her feelings for Ianthe, a wealthy suitor who would please her family, and her desire to pursue higher magic that is typically forbidden to women.  Magic users are able to communicate with powerful, but incorporeal spirits who sometimes can share their bodies and experiences.  Women are expected to wear a collar around their neck once they are married as a form of magical birth control that prevents spirits from entering them and taking over their children.  Ianthe’s sister Ysbeta also desires to become a powerful magic user and she and Beatrice become friends.  In contrast to Ysbeta and Beatrice, Beatrice’s own sister is obsessed with the parties and courtship rituals and looks forward to them and wants nothing more than making a good match herself.  The characters are diverse and compelling.  This was a page turner that had my nightly reading pushing past midnight!   

The Book of Magic
The Practical Magic Series, Book 4
Alice Hoffman

The Book of Magic is both chronologically and in the writing of, the fourth in the Practical Magic Series.  The first written in the series was Practical Magic followed by two prequels The Rules of Magic and Magic LessonsPractical Magic is one of my favorite novels from my 20’s and I’m always a fan of Hoffman’s beautiful prose and bittersweet magical realism.  She writes about sympathetic and spirited heroines who are impossible not to care about.  That said I had mixed feelings as a fan of the first novel since this one basically comes in and resets a family curse that has plagued generations of Owens women where they lose their true loves, which seemed to have been resolved.  While I liked seeing how the daughters in the original novel grew up into strong women and seeing their bond of sisterhood something that is a thread throughout the series, I wish that the novel could have been written without changing fundamentally what had happened previously.  In the end though I think it was worth the read to be able to spend more time with the Owen’s family.

Witch Please
Fix-It Witches Series, Book 1
by Ann Aguirre

Witch Please like The Book of Magic is set in current day; in fact it is described as “Practical Magic meets Gilmore Girls.”  Danica along with her cousin owns a repair shop where they are able to use their witchcraft to fix just about everything from a blender to a cash register.  In the novel, Danica’s grandmother has told her that their family line has a weakness that if the witches in the family marry a non-magical partner, it will weaken their witchcraft.  Unfortunately Danica is falling for the gorgeous baker who with his sister owns a bakery where Danica often goes to buy cinnamon buns for her book club/coven.  This novel feels much lighter and funnier than the other two.  Intimate moments are also more graphically depicted and may be a bit much for those who prefer the bedroom door be kept closed in their romances.  There is some diversity among the characters including lesbian and bisexuals being positively represented. I’m looking forward to reading the next two in the series Boss Witch which came out at the beginning of April and follows Danica’s cousin Clementine and October’s Extra Witchy.

For more books about witches you can check out some of my previous blog posts.  Love fantasy?  Check out HPL’s monthly Science Fiction and Fantasy Group!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

Familial Magic: A Secret History of Witches, Daughters of the Storm, and The Rules of Magic

13 Jun

All families have drama, but these three terrific novels prove that families of witches really know how to brew up some trouble.  Stop in to the Hoboken Public Library today and borrow them for a spell!

A Secret History of Witches
by Louise Morgan
Each section in the novel, A Secret History of Witches, focuses on a different witch in a long lineage starting in 1821 and going forward in time to 1937.  Although the women are witches, to me there is less a focus on the supernatural than on the relationship between mothers and daughters as well as the ways in which women who have attempted to wield power have been discriminated against and threatened through the ages.  This novel will appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction generally and not just fans of fantasy.  Sometimes the characters can lack distinction in multigenerational sagas, but I found in this work each of the women was unique in her motivations and her relationship with her supernatural talents.  Although I enjoyed seeing the varied histories of the Orchiere family, I enjoyed the last section focusing on Veronica and her efforts during the War to be my favorite.  Louisa Morgan is the pseudonym of Louise Marley who has also written historical fiction under the name Cate Campbell as well as fantasy works under the name Toby Bishop.

Daughters of the Storm
by Kim Wilkins
In Daughters of the Storm, a novel infused with magic, the focus is not on mother/daughter relationships but on the relationship between 5 very different sisters.  Bluebell is a fierce warrior, Ash is just learning her full magical abilities, Ivy is vain and selfish, Ivy’s twin Willow is a religious zealot of a new religion, and Rose is carrying on a secret affair after being forced into an arranged marriage with a man she doesn’t love.  They must work together to save their ill father, a king, who has been cursed by a powerful spell.  Their step brother wants to stop them and have the kingdom for himself.  If you are a fan of Game of Thrones check out this fantasy saga which also has political maneuvering and familial drama a plenty.  This is the first in a new series.  The next book in the series Sisters of the Fire is scheduled to be published in the USA in January 2019 and is set 4 years after the events in Daughters of the Storm.  Wilkins is one of my favorite author’s and you can read more about her other novels in a previous blog post.

The Rules of Magic
Alice Hoffman
Over a decade after Hoffman’s bestselling novel Practical Magic about two sister witches, comes the prequel, The Rules of Magic, which focuses on an earlier generation of the Owens family.  If you liked the quirky aunts, Jet and Franny, from the original novel then you will enjoy getting to see them in their youth at the beginning of the 60’s when youth rebellion is raging and they must try to escape their family curse along with their brother Vincent.  All three learn that love is impossible to hide from.  Although it is hard to top the magic of her earlier work, I still enjoyed the novel.  I relished the plot of the previous work more, but I found this work to be more mature in its characterization; Jet, Franny, and Vincent seemed more fully developed.  Besides print, you can also borrow an ebook or digital audiobook version of the novel from eLibraryNJ or eBCCLS.  You can also read my previous post about some of Hoffman’s other novels.

Written by
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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