Bookbyte: Practical Magic

Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic was published sixteen years ago. Hoffman herself turned 59 yesterday.

Hoffman has a way of telling the story that feels like, well, like she’s telling story. Some voices make you think you’re there, experiencing the action. But Hoffman’s story is a little detached from that, yet manages to feel more intimate. You’re in the room with her while she spins her mystical tale. There’s little dialog in this book; instead, images are conjured right out of thin air!

In Practical Magic, two Salem, Mass., sisters who couldn’t be more different–and just want to get away from one another–can’t keep their lives from intertwining.

Hoffman weaves all her characters together in an enchanting, seamless spell. Just when she lulls you into relaxation (you can almost hear the prose hum as it transmits directly into your mind from the page), she jolts you awake with shocking intensity.

Kylies wishes she could go out and play soccer… She wishes that she were twelve years old again… She wishes she had a sister who acted like a human being, and an aunt who didn’t cry herself to sleep so often that her pillow has to be wrung out each morning.

Most of all, Kylie wishes that the man in their backyard would go away. He’s out there right now… Kylie can see him… Bad weather never affects him; if anything he relishes black skies and wind. The rain… seems to go right through him. …Every time he breathes, horrible things come out of his mouth: Little green frogs. Drops of Blood. He’s wrecking things just by snapping his fingers.

That still gives me chills! If you haven’t read Alice Hoffman, this is a great place to start. Also recommended: Turtle Moon and The Ice Queen.

Practical Magic was made into a film starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. Have you seen it? How does it stack up to the book?

Read more about Hoffman at her website:

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