I noticed the story many years ago through the movie Practical Magic. And maybe that´s why I couldn´t go beyond the feeling this is a solidly written novel, but nothing compared to the light and bright feeling I felt while watching the movie. The book is an entirely different story. Which isn´t bad per se. Not at all. I had moments while reading through the pages, where I thought, this could become a four-star. I was laughing with the characters and shook my head in disbelief while reading other scenes with the kids. But despite everything, I couldn´t stop thinking that I had somehow expected more. I had missed the fun I felt while watching the movie. And maybe that´s the challenge here. I am too connected to the movie.

Practical Magic-Zauberhafte Schwestern*
by Alice Hoffman
The Rules Of Magic Series #2
Translation Eva Kemper
Original Title Practical Magic
Publisher Fischer TB on July 27, 2022
Genre Novel
Pages 300
Format Softcover
Source Fischer TB

Discover the magic of everyday life.
For more than two hundred years, the women of the Owens family have been blamed for every ill that happens in the small East Coast Massachusetts community. No wonder they are thought to be witches. And Gillian and Sally are not spared this fate either. Outsiders and skeptical as children equally desired and feared as young women, every day offers a new challenge. But they alone are responsible for the biggest one: when the two sisters become estranged from each other, it takes more than a little magic to bring them back together.
Sally wants nothing more than to lead a normal life. One with a regular job, husband, and children. No magic, no excitement, none of the life she had growing up in her aunt's house. She wants love, and happiness, and to see her girls thrive and become responsible adults. But please not too fast. But the moment her sister shows up with an Oldsmobile with a dead body in the trunk, she knows nothing will ever be the same again.

Even if the writing style is a bit odd, I was pleased with the reading speed and the explanations of the author from the beginning. It sounded and read like the previous volume. With just a few words, Alice Hoffman takes her readers into a magical, albeit somewhat gloomy world, where nothing is as expected. There is no normal life in the Owens household. At least not for everyone else who lives outside. How things are in the house itself and in the lives of the sisters Sally and Gillian is a completely different story. And the author knows how to show the inner conflicts, doubts, longings, and moral concepts of the characters.

Sally and Gillian couldn't be more different. Both visually and internally. Sally is the one with the long dark hair. Gillian with the once long blond mane. Both were downright beauties, although Sally would never see it that way. While dutiful throughout her life, showing responsibility and moving through her life in a controlled manner, Gillian is a flighty creature. Just don't stay in one place for too long. The word love or even real feelings do not exist for them. Endowed with little to no self-esteem, she literally flees through life, running flat out into a toxic relationship. One that will ultimately define the lives of both sisters.

To this day, I'm completely fascinated by the film "Practical Magic". As I said it at the beginning of this review already, the book is an entirely different story. And a tad too dark for my taste. By the end of the book, I was torn between the story and the characters. And yet I was a bit disappointed in the end. But maybe my expectations were just too high... Too bad. I would have loved to have liked the novel more.

Happy reading

*This book was kindly provided to me by Fischer TB in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thank you. Therefore, the cover of the German edition is shown first in this review.

Deutsche Rezension

Auch wenn der Schreibstil etwas eigenartig ist, war ich doch von Beginn an über das Lesetempo und die Ausführungen der Autorin erfreut. Es klang und las sich wie schon der Vorgängerband. Mit wenigen Worten entführt Alice Hoffman ihre Leser in eine Magische, wenn auch etwas düstere Welt, wo nichts so ist wie gedacht. Ein normales Leben gibt es im Hause Owens nicht. Zumindest nicht für alle anderen, die außerhalb leben. Wie es im Haus selbst und im Leben der Schwestern Sally und Gillian aussieht, ist eine ganz andere Geschichte. Und die Autorin versteht es gut, die inneren Konflikte, Zweifel, Sehnsüchte und Moralvorstellungen der Figuren zu zeigen.

Sally und Gillian könnten nicht unterschiedlicher sein. Sowohl optisch als auch innerlich. Sally ist die mit den langen dunklen Haaren. Gillian die mit der einst langen blonden Mähne. Beide ausgesprochene Schönheiten, auch wenn Sally das so nie sehen würde. Während sie ihr ganzes Leben lang pflichterfüllt ist, Verantwortung zeigt und sich kontrolliert durch ihr Leben bewegt, ist Gillian ein flatterhaftes Wesen. Nur nicht zu lange an einem Ort bleiben. Das Wort Liebe oder gar echte Gefühle existieren für sie nicht. Mit wenig bis kein Selbstwertgefühl ausgestattet, flieht sie sprichwörtlich durch das Leben und rennt dabei mit Vollgas in eine toxische Beziehung. Eine, die am Ende das Leben beider Schwestern bestimmen wird.

Vom Film „Practical Magic“ bin ich bis heute restlos begeistert. Der Roman ist eine komplett andere Geschichte. Und für meinen Geschmack eine Spur zu düster. Bis zum Ende des Buches war ich hin und hergerissen von der Handlung als auch den Figuren. Und trotzdem war ich am Ende etwas enttäuscht. Vielleicht waren meine Erwartungen aber auch einfach zu hoch … Schade. Ich hätte den Roman gerne mehr gemocht.

*This book was published in the English language by Simon & Schuster Ltd on January 6, 2022. The first edition was published in 1995.

Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman ©Matt McGinley

Alice Hoffman was born in New York in 1952 and now lives in Boston. Her novels have been translated into over 20 languages and have received numerous awards. With "The Rules of Magic" and "Practical Magic" she wrote an enchanting family story that is currently being filmed for the second time.


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