In this prequel to “Practical Magic”, readers are taken into the childhood of “the aunts”: Francis and Jet. Born in New York City, Franny is red headed, tenacious, and serious, while Jet is lovely, quiet, and shy. Their mother Susanna has raised them and their brother Vincent to be as normal as possible, but it is obvious to themselves that they are anything but. Growing up outside the Owens’ family influence, their parents do everything possible to be seen as mainstream, but when the children visit their Aunt Isabelle in Massachusetts one summer and meet their cousin April, they realize why they have struggled their whole lives. Both Franny and Jet spend time rejecting love, fearful of the curse that anyone they fall in love with will die. Vincent jumps headlong into relationships, careless and rebellious. All three experience heartache and must find a way to make peace with their unusual gifts and the high price they demand.
I really wanted to like this one. I thought “Practical Magic” a tough book to like, and this one is really no different. Flat, heavy on telling, and rather emotionless especially considering the characters are supposed to be so passionate. You have absolutely no doubt what calamities are coming down the pike for the Owens children, and when it plays out over and over, it feels predictable and sad. There is zero chance for readers to infer anything. The backstory of how the Williard and Owens families are connected is trite and dumped in your lap. (Has anyone who has read anything about the history of witches in America not heard of Judge Hathorne and his “Scarlet Letter” author descendent?!! If you’ve never visited Salem or read much about the witchcraft trials, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s adding a “w” to his last name to distance himself from his ancestor is an often retold story and can be found here.)
I hate to say this, but there is only one instance I can ever remember where I thought the film was better than the book, and that was “Practical Magic”. If they ever make a film from this book, I’ll have a second example.
Amazon link is here.