Thursday, October 25, 2018

13 Days of Halloween: Hocus Pocus & the All-New Sequel

Freeform Books; 528 pages; Amazon
Go ahead an admit it! You have watched Hocus Pocus at least one time! 

I'm not for sure when the tradition started, but Freeform (formerly ABC Family) airs the 1993 film dozens of times throughout the month of October every year; resulting in it becoming a cult classic. Since I'm a bit older than the typical Freeform viewer, I was quite aware that Hocus Pocus existed long before it became popular. I remember seeing it in theaters when I was a 12-years-old and later watching it countless times on VHS; so I was a big fan before everyone else started appreciating the little horror-comedy. 

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film, Disney published Hocus Pocus & the All-New Sequel written by A. W. Jantha, which is actually two books in one. The first 200 pages is the novelization of the original film and the rest of the book is the long awaited sequel.

I'm not going to go into a detailed description of the novelization's plot, as by now practically everyone in the world has seen the movie. However, I will mentioned about the differences in novelization. For instance, the beginning of the movie that was set in 1693 is split up in the book in flashbacks, which are intertwined in several chapters with the 1993 setting. There's a few new scenes with Max prior to going to school and he's given a backstory about his life prior to moving to Salem. Also, there's a few additional scenes expanding his relationship with Allison. Then there's the ending, which has been completely reconned with the Sanderson's spell book disappearing.

Set 25 years later, the sequel centers on Max and Allison's seventeen-year-old daughter Poppy, her best friend  Travis, and her new friend Isabella breaking into the Sanderson sister's home to play an Ouija board-like game. Isabella just happens to have found the spell book that very same day and with the game they accidentally recite a spell that transports Max, Allison, and Dani into Hell. To make matters even worse, the spell brings back the Sanderson sisters!

I have mixed feeling about this book. The first half is really great. It's one of the best novelizations I have ever read; staying true to the film, but adding just a new details to the story to make it even better. The sequel switches the narration to the point-of-view of Poppy. While the character is interesting, she acts a long younger than her actual age. She should have been a fourteen-year-old instead of seventeen. The plot is a little bit similar to the original, but this time the kids need to find a blood moonstone, so they can rescue Max, Allison, and Dani from Hell before midnight or they'll be stuck there forever. There's a lot reconning, including a fourth Sanderson sister, who is a good witch. Binx and sister Emily make a few appearances as ghosts, but it feels too much like fan service. The story's pacing is really off; sometimes the book is really boring and other times it's really exciting. As for the Sanderson sisters, they are written just like they were in the movie. 

Then there's confusing cliffhanger ending! I guessing there's going to be another book!

Overall, Hocus Pocus & the All-New Sequel is a must-have for any Hocus Pocus fan, especially for those of us who have been wanting a sequel. Let's hope Disney scraps the unwanted made-for-Disney Channel remake and use this book as basis for a feature film sequel!

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