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Hocus Pocus & The All-New Sequel | Young Adult Fantasy Book ReviewHocus Pocus & The All New Sequel by A.W. Jantha
Published by Freeform on July 10, 2018
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 521
Format: Hard Cover
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four-stars

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.

Hocus Pocus is my favorite Halloween movie, as it is for many ’90s kids, so I was super excited to hear there was going to be a sequel. When I found out it was a book sequel, rather than a movie sequel…well, I have to admit that I was disappointed not to have Better Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy returning as the witches. Still, I am a book nerd, so it wasn’t a total loss.

The first half of this book is the beloved story of Hocus Pocus with a few extra details added in. But don’t worry movie fans, it doesn’t detract from the original story or alter it in any sort of significant way. It’s basically details that flesh out the original characters (after all, unlike the movie, we can now see the inner workings of their minds) and set up the sequel.

The second half of the book is the sequel…The sequel. Sigh. I have to be honest, the start is a bit rough, mainly due to the author trying to make the story more modern and relevant to the young adults of this decade, except they don’t have to. The author made the main character a lesbian. While I feel this segment of society is under-represented in mainstream literature, this part of the storyline does not feel natural to the story. I think the writer could have done a better job making it blend in with the rest of the story rather than stand out like a statement. I also think they could have gotten away with making this a buddy story instead of a romance.

By the way, the author is A. W. Jantha, which appears to be a pen name created specifically for this book, as they have no other works listed to their name. So who exactly is this mysterious author? Any ideas?

Back to the story….It’s 25 years later and Max and Allison’s daughter, Poppy, knows the story of her parents, Aunt Dani, and the Sanderson Sisters. She thinks they’re crazy and slightly overprotective when it comes to the supernatural, but they’ve kept it under wraps from people outside the family. However, she soon learns that the story is real when the Sanderson Sisters return. Now, it’s up to her and her friends to save Salem.

Some favorite characters from the original story appear in the sequel, which is nice. One of them is Jay, the not-so-bright bully from the movie. I’m not so sure I’m sold on his career, but I imagine it was a choice of convenience to make the story work. While old favorites made their appearances, the autho made sure not to let them overshadow the new trio of heroes.

As leader of the trio, Poppy is a nice mix of her parents. She has her father’s lack of foresight and her mother’s strength, plus her own sense of compassion, which makes for an interesting character to drive the story forward. The supporting characters, Travis and Isabella were enjoyable to read, especially Travis with his humor and wit. Isabella’s role was slightly predictable, but I think it was a predictability that readers want to see happen.

While the start of the sequel is clunky, the story does get better as the flow improves. The action is well-paced and the storyline imaginative. Best of all, the reader gets to learn more about witches, the book, and the history of the Sanderson family. Overall, it was enjoyable to read, and it will be interesting to see if they make any more sequels to follow.

Have you read the Hocus Pocus sequel yet?

Book Review - Hocus Pocus and Sequel - Young Adult Fantasy

four-stars