It may be a few days past Halloween, but I’m still holding on for a bit longer. A few weeks ago my cousin recommended reading Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman. Last year I watched the movie for the first time with my mom. The movie was adorable and perfect for Halloween. I never realized that the movie was based on a whole book series! (Shame on me.) I knew instantly that it would be the perfect Halloween-ish themed book for me to read in October. The book and the movie are sort of different in some aspects, so both stand on their own as being great.
“There are some things, after all, that Sally Owens knows for certain: Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can.”
Raised by their aunts and shunned by their classmates for being witches, sisters Gillian and Sally struggled to find their own versions of happiness. Gillian has always been the ‘wild child’, rearing to get out of Massachusetts and adamant that she wouldn’t be caught dead east of the Mississippi ever again; until she needs her older sister Sally to bail her out.
After the death of her husband, Sally left the aunts behind and the little town they called home for a place where she could just fade into the background and raise her daughters; escaping the rumors, whispers and odd looks that met her everywhere she went. It’s Gillian’s unexpected arrival on Sally’s doorstep that stirs things up for everyone. The plot follows the sisters as they navigate their lives to some sort of normalcy.
“It doesn’t matter what people tell you. It doesn’t matter what they might say. Sometimes you have to leave home. Sometimes, running away means you’re headed in the exact right direction.”
The major aspects of the storyline that carry over from the book to the movie are Jimmy’s demise, the gorgeous flowers that overtake the Owens’ yard and the appearance of Gary. Aside from that, there is no ‘one blue, one green eye’ incantation (boo!), no midnight margarita time with the aunts (they actually don’t play much of a role in the book) and there is less whimsy in regards to the magic and the curse that surrounds any man who falls in love with an Owens woman. If you remember from the movie, Sally opens a plant based cosmetics shop and neither sister shies away from using her powers or casting spells, which I thought added a fun dynamic to the mix. In this version, it felt like the sisters were always running from who they were and things just sort of happened all around them instead.
“Some fates are guaranteed, no matter who tries to intervene.”
A lot of focus is put on Sally’s daughters, Antonia and Kylie in the story. I really enjoyed getting to know Kylie, and I assume the other books in the series explore more of their lives.
Magical realism seems to be the category I’m drawn to most when it comes to “spooky” reads. I would definitely love to read more of the series down the line!
“Do you ever just put your arms out and just spin and spin and spin? Well, that’s what love is like; everything inside of you tells you to stop before you fall, but for some reason you just keep going.”