Title: Practical Magic
Author: Alice Hoffman
Series: Practical Magic #1
Genre: Magical Realism
Length: 286 pages
Release Date: July 1, 1995
Source: Personal collection
Content Warnings: sexual harassment, death, grief
The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.
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…
I liked this, but it did not live up to my expectations based on watching the movie (about 15 years ago). I guess I expected the book to be witchier. I thought this was a witchy, paranormal fantasy, but it’s actually an understated magical realism where you’re never quite sure if actual magic is at play, or mere superstitions and coincidences.
The writing style is interesting. It’s very descriptive, with long paragraphs and little dialogue, reminiscent of stream-of-consciousness writing, but in third person. The book also does not have traditional chapters; instead, it’s divided into large sections with very few stopping points. This unique writing style made it easy to get lost in the story, but it also made it hard to get back into when I had to put the book down.
Overall, this is a heartwarming, multigenerational tale of unusual women and everyday magic, even if the plot is a bit slow and meandering. I enjoyed reading about the Owens family, the sister relationships, and the magical ties that bring family back together.