Published by Freeform on July 10, 2018
Hocus Pocus is beloved by Halloween enthusiasts all over the world. Diving once more into the world of witches, this electrifying two-part young adult novel, released on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1993 film, marks a new era of Hocus Pocus. Fans will be spellbound by a fresh retelling of the original film, followed by the all-new sequel that continues the story with the next generation of Salem teens.
Shortly after moving from California to Salem, Massachusetts, Max Dennison finds himself in hot water when he accidentally releases a coven of witches, the Sanderson sisters, from the afterlife. Max, his sister, and his new friends (human and otherwise) must find a way to stop the witches from carrying out their evil plan and remaining on earth to torment Salem for all eternity.
Twenty-five years later, Max and Allison's seventeen-year-old daughter, Poppy, finds herself face-to-face with the Sanderson sisters in all their sinister glory. When Halloween celebrations don't quite go as planned, it's a race against time as Poppy and her friends fight to save her family and all of Salem from the witches' latest death-defying scheme.
Note: I debated for a long time when to post this. Right after release (I got the book a few days before, no time to finish it right away)? In October for a Halloween thing? I decided on early September, partially because it took so long to get through part one (I’ll explain) and partially because I believe it is the perfect medium. Long enough after release that initial buzz has died down so I can keep it going, close enough to October but enough time for people to get it before main HALLOWEEN SEASON begins. But for me, a huge fan of Halloween, the season begins September first. Welcome to Pre-Halloween.
This is a review in two parts, just like the book. Because that’s what this book is, in essence. Two separate tales in a bind up: the movie in book form, and the written sequel.
HOCUS POCUS: The Book
If you’ve ever seen the 1993 film from Disney starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and a very young pre-“Agent McGee” Sean Murray, you’ve pretty much read this first part of the book. Hocus Pocus is literally what it says on the tin, a word for word retelling of the film. Only the occasional witty description saves this first half from complete doldrums for anyone familiar enough with the film to know it well.
I would say this first bit is only necessary for new fans or people who have never seen the film, as long time Hocus Pocus-ers will be BORED.
This is why it took me until bloody AUGUST to finish the book. Literally a full month after release. It’s just a SLOG if you already know what’s going on.
So we come to the good bit, the whole reason I wanted the book in the first place and really the reason anyone should pick it up. Fans of HOCUS POCUS, this is for you. Er– sort of. This sequel is very modern. VERY modern. Where Hocus Pocus is timeless as a Halloween classic, the sequel LIVES in its time. In 20 years it will be incredibly dated with all the current trends and references of today. For now, though, it’s an entertaining and long awaited read for Disney buffs and Hocus Pocus fans.
Why, you may ask, since it is so much a product of its time, would older fans still be able to enjoy it? Because even though it’s new and trendy in language and in feeling, it still captures the heart and soul of Hocus Pocus. Crazy-ass witches that are both evil and silly? Check. Not understanding technology in a humorous way? Check. Historical backstory and extension of the canon that makes total sense? Got that too! And of course well placed references to the original while still having it’s own story.
The best part: we’ve got a mostly new cast of heroes. Max, Dani and Allison only play small roles in the story. We’ve got the witches, and we’ve got a new team to go up against them. Two (and later 3) fabulous ladies and one awkward teenage boy. Recipe for friends to lovers romance? Yes, but not what you think. No awkward boy and best friend girl romance here, oh no!
There’s an LGBT romance! Hey there, Disney, look at you catching up with the times. Nice to see you join the rest of us in the 21st century. No side references and hidden relationships here, our hero is smitten with another girl, ladies and gentlemen. Disney has themselves an LGBT main character. Well, to be fair, it’s a Freeform book. BUT it’s based on a beloved Disney franchise so I’ll take it, thank you very much.
One more part 2 fangirl moment before we wrap up. One of the things that really stands out in the sequel is the chapter titles. I couldn’t help giggle as I read each one, a modern take on several common phrases and witchy references. Here are some of my favorites:
Don’t Let My Resting Witch Face Fool You
They may come to be dated, but I was highly entertained regardless.
I loved part two and almost wish that it was pubbed separately from the retelling. Or that they hadn’t bothered with part one at all! Really, unless you haven’t seen Hocus Pocus at all you don’t really need it. Even obsessive Hocus Pocus fangirls can do without it. However, the sequel is absolutely worth every penny. It’s fun, it’s light, it’s fresh and I loved every second despite how rooted it is in its time setting. I can happily enjoy watching the film and then reading the sequel every Halloween.
If you’re a Hocus Pocus fan or a lover of Halloween this book is for you and you MUST pick it up. You may skip part one if you choose.
What is your favorite Halloween movie or book? Share in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,