Review: Practical Magic – Alice Hoffman

Happy Halloween!

In celebration of the most magical day of the year I figured what better book to read than one that has magic in the title.

I cannot count how many times I have watched the film version of Practical Magic, so count me surprised that upon viewing it for the upteenth time I finally saw the frame that said, ‘based on the book by Alice Hoffman.’

For those unaware there was also a prequel/sequel, staring everyone’s favourite aunts, released earlier this month by Hoffman, so you know that before picking that one up I had to read Practical Magic.

Did I find Hoffman’s source material to a beloved Halloween movie as bewitching as I hoped it would be? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.

The Book 

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic…

The Review

Well, I can without a doubt say I enjoy the movie better than the book, which is disappointing. Maybe this stems from the fact that I have seen the movie so many times that I knew, roughly, what was coming up next in the story.

Character wise I couldn’t help but picture Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in the roles of Sally and Gillian respectively, and I really didn’t like the characterization of Sally in particular.

I also really couldn’t stand Michael, but I feel the same about the movie version. In both the book and the movie, Michael is kind of thrown haphazardly into the narrative, and in the end Sally gets her ‘wish,’ but because he is kind of just there I really don’t feel he adds anything.

I did, however, enjoy seeing Sally’s children grow into young adults. In the movie they stay fairly young, but in the book it added a layer of depth to the narrative that I couldn’t help but wish was present in the movie version.

All that was missing for this book to receive a higher rating from me was the final shot of the movie, when Sally, Gillian, the aunts, and the children jump from the roof and touch the ground if aided by magic.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

Purchase Links

Berkley | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo

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