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Practical Magic

(Practical Magic #1)

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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  61,783 ratings  ·  5,112 reviews
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, ta
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Paperback, Reissue, 286 pages
Published August 5th 2003 by Penguin (first published July 1st 1995)
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Mandie Thompson Personally, I hated the book. For me, it's one of the very very rare instances where the movie is better. For one thing, the two are nothing alike.…morePersonally, I hated the book. For me, it's one of the very very rare instances where the movie is better. For one thing, the two are nothing alike. The characters have the same names, and that's about it. I couldn't even finish the book because I didn't recognize even a thread of connection to the movie that I love so much.(less)
Rose Ann If you are desperate to read this book, you can always see if it's available at your public library.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Melissa
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, womens-fiction
*3.75 stars*

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it wasn’t until I read my first Alice Hoffman novel last year (The Museum of Extraordinary Things) that I realized Practical Magic was more than just a swoon-worthy movie I’d watched a dozen times over—it’s also a book. With numerous viewings under my belt and the upcoming release of the prequel, The Rul
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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I guess I have changed.



I have my little paperback copy I got and read years ago. And of course I found it after I bought the one with the cool boot on the front 🙄

Anyway, I loved the book so much back then and now it's just meh! I still love the movie but something just didn't get me as pulled in as before. Oh well. It's still good.

Mel ❤
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Brina
During the last few months of last year I had been eagerly awaiting Alice Hoffman's new book Rules of Magic. I had read new books by some of my go to authors for magical realism, which had left a bitter taste in my mouth because these books were contemporary and devoid of magical occurrences. Rules of Magic, while not necessarily magical realism, was simply magical. As soon as I finished reading the tale of Frances and Jet Owens, I reserved the story where it all began, Practical Magic. Much to ...more
Racheal
This is one of those rare examples of the movie being better than the book. Yeah. I somehow managed to get through it, but this book was like one never-ending series of mood-setting lists. An example:

"Sally thought long and hard each time she hung up the phone. She thought about the girl in the drugstore and the sound of Antonia’s footsteps on the stairs when she went to bed without a good-night hug. She thought about Michael’s life and his death, and about every second they had spent tog
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PorshaJo
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, challenge
This one is a hard one to review. I think most know the movie Practical Magic. I love this movie as I'm sure that most do. Everytime it's on, I watch it. Does not matter at what time I catch it, I watch till the end and swoon. When I started watching the movie, initially, I had no idea it was based on a book. So for years now I've been wanting to read this one. But then I see the movie is on and watch it. But the prequel is coming out and I have a copy and figured it's time I read it.

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Cheri
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
“The lesson Sally had learned so long ago in the kitchen—to be careful what you wish for—was so far and so faded it had turned to yellow dust. But it was the sort of dust that can never be swept up, and instead waits in the corner and blows into the eyes of those you love when a draft moves through your house.”

It’s only recently that I left Hoffman’s world in ”The Rules of Magic,” and so I returned to that world of the Owens family, to pick up where I’d left off, with a return to the home of the au
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Julie
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman is 2003 Penguin publication. (Originally published in 1995)

When I heard Hoffman was releasing a ‘prequel’ to Practical Magic, this past year, I knew I wanted to read it, but before I did, I needed to reacquaint myself with this book.

I read this book a long, long time ago, even before the movie was released. But, the book was something entirely different from the movie, which is a very charming and delightful adaptation, in my opinion. ‘You put the li
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L
Jul 02, 2008 rated it liked it
[Review written by my high school self]
I used to love the movie for this book, and I didn’t even know until after I had seen it that it was originally in book form. After finally getting a copy of the book and reading it, something magical happened: I didn’t know which one I liked better. Usually, having to decide favorites between the book and the movie is very easy. Except in the case of Grisham's The Pelican Brief, I almost always prefer the book versions. In some cases (as with Gone with th
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Katie
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
My fear about this was I wouldn’t get on with the magical realism element. However that wasn’t a problem. The problem was more my feeling that it lacked a raison d’etre. For a long time it felt like a story was continually being set up but never quite happening. I’ve never seen the film but have a hunch it might be better than the novel because there’s a lot of padding in the book, lots of asides. Essentially a light and fun read, intelligent chick lit (every male character in this book is a lov ...more
Phrynne
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4000-books
I always like a bit of magic so I enjoyed this book very much, my only disappointment being that Sally and Gillian did not embrace their powers and use them! At least the aunts knew how to mix up a really good potion and cast an appropriate spell when necessary.

I enjoy the way Hoffman writes. Her characters are well rounded and likable, and her descriptions of things like the rampant lilac and hordes of toads in the garden are gorgeous.

Altogether a very readable, entertaining piece
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Justin Tate
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
The first clue that this was going to be a slog was the two audio versions. Unabridged, the running time is 9 hours 12 minutes. The abridged version is a mere 3 hours 6 minutes. As a general rule, if you can cut 70% of your book and it’s still coherent, that’s not a good sign.

Unfortunately the purist in me had to listen to the unabridged version. Now that it’s over, I can confirm that 70% could easily be cut. Probably more.

That’s not to say the entire experience was terri
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Fabian
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Charming, wicked. But also superficial and almost too flighty to take seriously or to dismiss as a prolonged adult fairy tale outright. The characters are all indisputably unique, so why do they sound exactly the same, with that similar tone of... Dullness? Being a witch is just SOO normal! Er, practical! The story jumps around like some impatient child, from characters to images (the aura of plants, the craziness of toads and cats, the thunderbolts of love) with little consideration for a reade ...more
Anna
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is the first time in my reading life that I can say that the movie is better than the book. I honestly wish that I'd read the book first, because the monumental let down of reading the book after the movie has been something I cannot reconcile. The movie is beautiful, the storyline is engaging and witty, and the characters draw you in and make you laugh and cry. Yet the book is so far removed from the movie, they are hardly relatable at all, with such flimsy linkages, you could actually see ...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of Adult Fairytales
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Theresa
Remember being addicted to dark fairytales like Aesop’s & Grimm’s as a kid? Then at around ten figuring it’s time you grew up, setting them aside & heading over to the library teen section? Have you missed them all these years? Check out magical realism. Hey, the same twisted supernatural tales, riddled with conflict & hidden meanings –repackaged for grownups!
Practical Magic was published long before another of this genre I just read - Garden Spells - they’re both good and pretty similar.
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Mike (the Paladin)
I was a little hesitant about the rating to give this book. There are what I would call, good moments. Mostly I don't care for it. There is an odd streak of amorality underlying it (I can just hear someone asking "who's morals are you talking about"). You have the two old ladies referred to as "the aunts" who raise a young girl to be selfish, obstinate, and rebellious (treating these as the best of good desirable traits) and then wondering that tragedy follows. There are shifting personalities i ...more
Celeste
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Full review now posted!

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Some people love Halloween, but don’t enjoy being frightened. This book is perfect for them; its magical and uncanny and feels perfect for fall. There are ghosts, supposed witches, magical gardens, and lots of black cats. And the entire story revolves around the women of the Owens family, their unusual attractiveness and their troubles with love. Even though the story transpires over years and every season, it feels quintessentially autumna
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ALet
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
★★ /5

This was fine… I guess?!?
I defiantly see the appeal of this book, the premise is interesting, but execution let me down. I as a lot of people had seen the movie based on this book, so I had some sort of understanding of what should happen in this book, but sadly my hopes didn’t come true. Sadly, this book was really boring and full of filler content, literally, you can skip 70 percent of this book and you will not miss anything. The structure of this book was all over the
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Britany
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of my all time favorite movies, I constantly asked myself, "How have I never read this book?" Finally, I gave in to the Owens women...

Oh, this book was all that I wanted from this story. Completely different from the movie and a strong focus on the two main ladies- Sally and Gillian. Two sisters quickly orphaned and raised by their Aunts (two of my very favorite characters in this book!). The neighborhood in Massachusetts took every opportunity to make fun of these sister
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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
This is a really good book. I couldn't put it down. It's good as many genres, coming of age, romance, fantasy, family drama, all of the above. It's so well-written and the language is beautiful and affecting. The words painted an image that was vivid and alive in my mind. Strangely enough, I pictured Sandra Bullock, who plays her in the movie, as Sally. I loved the extended narrative about Sally's daughters, which was missing from the movie. It seems as though they are going to repeat the patter ...more
bookczuk
2007 reviewI just love this book, really. It makes me smile just to think about it. I've read it twice now, and in a year or so will be ready for a re-read. The movie is good, too, but I love the book best, An Utterly Delightful novel about the magic of life.

From the Publisher
Practical Magic is a tale of two sisters, Gillian and Sally Owens, brought up by their two elderly guardian aunts in a world of spells and exotica from which they eventually escape - one by running away, the other
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Mackey
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-reviews, favorites
This was first book to read by Alice Hoffman and now I suspect I will read all of her books in one quick, furious reading marathon. Her rhythm and cadence allows the reader to feel as though she is speaking directly to you, telling you a long, wonderful story, rather than you - the reader - plowing through a book. Hoffman is delightful, her characters full of quirk and charm. You want to know them, to be them and never let them go when you are finished. What more can a reader ask of an author or ...more
Lizzy
Nov 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, fiction
DNF @ 25%. Sorry, Ms. Hoffman, but it is too YA for me...
Helen Power
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary, fantasy
Practical Magic follows Owens sisters Gillian and Sally as they live their lives.  They grow up in a town in Massachusetts where their family is shunned by the entire town.  It is believed that the women in their household are responsible for every terrible (or even mildly inconvenient) thing that happens.  As adults, the sisters part ways, escaping the town to find better lives, but they’re inexplicably drawn back together. 

Practical Magic follows Owens sisters Gillian and Sally as they live their lives.  They grow up in a town in Massachusetts where their family is shunned by the entire town.  It is believed that the women in their household are responsible for every terrible (or even mildly inconvenient) thing that happens.  As adults, the sisters part ways, escaping the town to find better lives, but they’re inexplicably drawn back together. 

Practical Magic

I fell in love with the writing style within the first few lines.  Hoffman is both eloquent and tantalizing with each word that she has so carefully selected.  It begins with a narrative setting the scene, but around fifty pages in, I realized that the whole book was like this. It’s too much narrative. Pages after pages of long paragraphs, with very little action to move the plot forward. Every now and then there is dialogue, but the nature of the narrative pulls the reader away from what is happening. I couldn’t truly connect with what was happening.

Not only is the book beautifully written, but it is beautifully twisted. This is revealed early on in the story, and was one of Practical Magic’s saving graces for me. I probably wouldn’t have finished it if it hadn’t had that darkness seeping into an otherwise seemingly innocuous story.  

I love how Hoffman incorporated little tidbits of witchcraft into her descriptions of things:

“Never presume August is a  safe or reliable time of the year. It is the season of reversals, when the birds no longer sing in the morning and the evenings are made up of equal parts golden light and black clouds. The rock-solid and the tenuous can easily exchange places until everything you know can be questioned and put into doubt.”

If only the entire book had been passages like this, without any pesky plot to get in the way of my enjoyment.

I had a hard time relating to the characters. They’re all quite selfish (which, weirdly, is normally relatable for me ;)), but they had very unlikable characteristics attributed to each of them.  I didn’t appreciate how each one of them (aside from Sally) was preoccupied with their looks. Even Hoffman, in her describing of characters, never spent much time talking about their other traits. The way Gillian has literally every man falling head over heels in love with her was a tad tedious.  There was also too much of this “falling in love at first sight” nonsense. It was amusing with Gillian, because she did it a million times, but every character did it, which made it less amusing and more aggravating.

(view spoiler)

I recommend this book to those who love an engrossing writing style, but aren’t expecting a lot in the form of plot.  The characters are a major appeal for this book, and it’s hard to determine who will like them and who will not. I suggest you give the book a shot if you’re wanting to read a book about witchcraft that isn’t a horror or a romance.

starstarstar
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Jennifer Gaarder
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
See my reviews at htttp://jenchaosreviews.com

Rating: 4 Stars

In Practical Magic, Gillian and Sally Owens become orphaned at a young age when tragedy strikes and they become wards of their Aunts in Massachusets, a town that has blamed the Owens women for all the ills of Massachusets since the arrival of their ancestor Maria Owens in the 1600's. Rich, independent and soon accused of theft. "And then one day, a farmer winged a crow in his cornfield, a creature who'd been stea
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Fred Shaw
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman, narrated by Christina Moore, Simon and Schuster Audio Books

Imagine for a moment, a steaming cauldron, and some ancient woman in a black coat pouring in a huge heaping of Alice Hoffman and stirring in a little Stephen King. Do you think one might get “Practical Magic” as the result? What a great story about a family of 2 aunts who live in an ancient family home in Massachusetts, with windows no one can see in or see out, 2 adopted nieces, one when gr
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Linda Hart
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written, quirky adult fairytale. If you enjoy reading magical realism you will love this. The characters are likable and well drawn, the descriptive prose is lovely, and the story is just plain fun.
Umut Reviews
I loved this book, that's the core of my review :)
I read it at the perfect time I think. It's a good Autumn/winter/Halloween book as it has a spooky theme.
I loved the weird aunts and the sisters Sally and Gillian. It was such a compelling and intriguing coming of age tale with magical realism woven into the mix perfectly.
I loved Hoffman's writing, and I'll definitely read everything she wrote. I can't wait to read The Rules Of Magic.
I want to also say the story telling in this book was perfe
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Brenda
Gillian and Sally had been in the care of their aunts since they were quite young – the Owens family had had a reputation for over two hundred years. As they grew up, Gillian and Sally would watch their aunts from the staircase as they administered potions to lovelorn women – they pinky vowed never to fall in love; ever. School was horrid – teased, taunted – children and adults would cross to the other side of the road if they encountered the sisters.

But then the day came that Gillian ran away.
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Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
I have seen the movie Practical Magical several times, the last time was actually today, the day after I finished the book for the first time. Well, I did start watching the movie before I started the book. However, I decided to read the book before I finished the movie. I had a very good reason for that. I have a copy of the prequel to the Practical Magic book (The Rules of Magic) and I wanted to read Practical Magical before I started the new book.

This is one of those times when the book is n
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Julie Zantopoulos
I enjoyed this read because I wanted to see all the differences between the novel and the movie...and there were many. There were some wonderful quotable moments but the exposition is extreme. There are massive blocks of details that really slow down the story, for me.

I had a really big issue with how "love" was portrayed in this book. It was an obsessive, stalker style thing. It was something you couldn't help so your behaviors were justified and the "romances" were made to seem magical and fa
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11,405 followers
Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The World That We Knew, The Rules of Magic, The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. Her most recent novel is The World That We Knew. She lives near Boston.

Other books in the series

Practical Magic (2 books)
  • The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic, #0)
“Sometimes the right thing feels all wrong until it is over and done with.” 2066 likes
“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.” 1009 likes
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