Book Review of Practical Magic

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 3.5 stars

My book review of Practical Magic:

Oh, what to say about this book. I wanted to love it so much!

Those of you who read my work have probably guessed that I enjoy stories that are set in the real world but that have an element of magic or the supernatural. Thus it’s probably no surprise that one of my favorite movies is Practical Magic. I watch it at least twice a year. Somehow, I missed the fact that the movie is based on a book. The moment I heard, I nabbed a copy.

I tend to prefer watching movie adaptations before reading the books if possible, so this seemed perfect. I don’t always agree that books are better than movies, but movie versions tend to cut out a lot due to time contraints and such. So if I enjoy a film version, I’ll often love the book and all the added bits. There’s a downside, though, when a movie is such a favorite. My expectations are high, maybe too high in this case. There was so much expanded material and so little similarity to the film that it left me a little dry.

The basics are there: the sisters, the aunts, the evil ex-boyfriend. And magic! But some of my absolute favorite bits of the movie are absent, and in their place is a long, as in decades-go-by, saga of the Owens family that bears little resemblance. The writing  narrative style is hypnotic, but is so heavy in exposition and light on dialog that it sometimes overpowered the read. I found myself skimming narration to get to “the story.” There were also some F-bombs I didn’t expect in reference to sex that sort of jarred me. In another book it wouldn’t have bothered me, but it just felt off seeing that language here. Again, that probably had a lot to do with my experience of the movie.

In all, it’s a worthwhile read if you don’t place too much stock in the film, which to me took the best parts of the book and altered the pacing, progression, and dialog to near perfection.

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