All about Books, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

#LoveMyLibaryWeek An Enchanted Library

Its Love My Library week so I want to reveal one of The Enchanted Emporium secrets.

An example of a much loved little library

Inspired by the wonderful small free libraries she saw online, Amber dragged out a small cabinet she found in the depths of the Emporium’s stock room into the Witch’s Yard. Her aim was to share recommended books with those with magical leanings to help them learn their craft when funds were low, but it grew to include any book she, Willow or Rosa adored. The only clause they discovered was the book needed a magical or supernatural thread. Without it, the book would leap from the shelf and ricochet across the yard to the nearest puddle, and the cabinet has its own impeccable taste. Rosa tried to sneak in much loved non-magic orientated books with horrifying consequences. I cannot say it that no books were hurt during her experiments. On one occasion a novel burst into flames and no, I will not say the title as it would be cruel to the book and the author. 

The cabinet is possessive over an illustrated copy of A Christmas Carol, allowing only some to borrow to take it away. There have been reports of the book placing itself on top of the borrowers reading pile and appearing near them and nudging them if ignored. Once read, it finds its own way home. Borrowing it has become a badge of honour; not only because of the worthiness of the person but who has the nerve to live with such an impatient novel. 

It’s favourites are those by Alice Hoffman including Magic Lessons, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow, The Castle Clair witch series by Sharon Booth, and Beltane by Alys West.

Books for all age groups are welcome. The other day a young child added Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, and the cabinet’s sigh of happiness drifted into the store for all to hear. If you have read or watched the film, I’m sure you would understand why. 

Over time, I will share reviews of some books it has on the shelves. Some of these include The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, The Woman and the Witch by Amanda Larkman, Threadneedle by Cari Thomas and The Ultimate Guide to the Witch’s Wheel of the Year by Anjou Kiernan. And I’d love your recommendations of books you love, and you think would impress this small witch library and Black Cat who guards it. 

Take care of yourself and love your library. Happy writing, reading, and stay safe!

Love

P.S Thank you A Little Book Problem for your help this week.

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

My first witchy book review is Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman. As soon as I read she was writing a prequel Practical Magic explaining the origin of the Owen curse, the countdown to publication was on. After reading Rules of Magic last year, I fell in love with her prose and the Owen family. I was thrilled to be given an ARC to review via NetGalley. Read on to see if it was worth the wait.

If like me you love listening to interviews with authors talking about their books, read on for a gem of a chat.

Book Review: Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Title: Magic Lessons

Author: Alice Hoffman

Genre: magic realism, adult fiction

Publisher: Simon and Schuster, Scribner UK

Release date: 6th Oct 2020

Purchase link: Amazon

Blurb

Where does the story of the Owens family begin? With a baby abandoned in a snowy field in the 1600s. Under the care of Hannah Owens, little Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows.

When Maria is abandoned by the man she loves, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s is here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters

My Thoughts

Despite my excitement I was anxious to begin this novel in case my high expectations were unfounded and there are times I struggle to read historical fiction, which this is. I need not have worried; the arrival of Maria into Hannah Owen’s life captivated me, and I remained in her world for hours; I did not want to stop reading.

Maria’s early carefree childhood with Hannah was a joy to read and connected me to her and Cadin, making the rest of the book an emotional ride as she travels across the globe to end up in Salem, Massachusetts. As a reader, you know the danger she will face when she blindly believes she will be fine. This knowledge added to the tension. The novel is short on dialogue which surprised me because it is a rare these days but I found I did not miss it because of Alice Hoffman’s talent for setting the scene, her magical prose and the observations of love in all its guises. The study of love with its joy and dangers is the core of this novel; it brings lightness, warmth, darkness, and destruction.

It is a well-researched historical fiction as seen in the lists of herbs, and spells written in the Owen’s grimoires and highlights the prejudice against women who are different and do not follow the social constructs created by men and the dangers they faced.

I have not read Practical Magic yet, and it is years since I watched the film, so my memory of her story was vague. I would be interested to hear what others with a firmer grounding of the curse think of Maria’s tale and the origin of the curse. Though this book is part of a series, you can easily read it as a standalone.

Would I recommend?

Alice Hoffman is a queen of magical storytelling, making Magic Lessons a pleasure to read. This emotional novel has depth, and I came away with the desire to wear my red boots with pride and the lessons of the Owens are tattooed in my heart. The observations of love in all its forms were what I needed to hear. It will be on my forever bookshelf with the rest of the series, ready for a reread and will inspire my own writing. Alice Hoffman’s shows how a novel involving witches and magic can be successful and loved in the mainstream.

Interview with Alice Hoffman about Magic Lessons

As promised an interview with Alice Hoffman discussing this book. I hope you enjoy.

Thank you Simon and Schuster via NetGalley for an advanced copy so I could give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love