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Goodreads⎮Reviewed Sep. 2017
Narrator: Christina Moore
Length: 9h 12m
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio⎮2012
Synopsis: Alice Hoffman’s enchanting witch’s brew of suspense, romance and magic – now a major motion picture from Warner Bros.
When the beautiful and precocious sisters Sally and Gillian Owens are orphaned at a young age, they are taken to a small Massachusetts town to be raised by their eccentric aunts, who happen to dwell in the darkest, eeriest house in town. As they become more aware of their aunts’ mysterious and sometimes frightening powers – and as their own powers begin to surface – the sisters grow determined to escape their strange upbringing by blending into “normal” society.
But both find that they cannot elude their magic-filled past. And when trouble strikes – in the form of a menacing backyard ghost – the sisters must not only reunite three generations of Owens women but embrace their magic as a gift – and their key to a future of love and passion.
Funny, haunting, and shamelessly romantic, Practical Magic is bewitching entertainment – Alice Hoffman at her spectacular best.
3.5 ★ Audiobook⎮This was a weird one for me. I was initially thinking it might be a slow burn, but it never really caught fire at all. For something called Practical Magic, there was very little mysticism. I was expecting way more “witchy woo”. Instead, everything dealing with magic was pushed to the background while romance and general life were the main focus. It seemed like we dealt with Jillian’s boy troubles and the general adolescence of Sally’s daughters more than anything, which made Practical Magic feel more like a “slice of life” book than anything to do with Fantasy or Paranormal.
I’ll keep this review brief because I don’t want to go off on a rant, but needless to say, I was pretty disappointed that this title didn’t strike me the way it has others. Maybe I just didn’t “get it”, because there didn’t seem to be much to “get”. To me, this was an underwhelming and overall unremarkable story. I can’t say I’m particularly happy about having spent nine hours of my time listening to it, especially because it felt like so much longer than that.
This was a character driven story; it just wasn’t driven by the right characters. That’s easy to say because there was basically no plot to speak of. I kept waiting for the character development to halt and the action to begin. I’m all for extensive character development, but there has to be balance. Ultimately, that’s what Practical Magic was lacking and it made the story seem so much longer than it was.
The aunts were my favorite characters, by far. They were the only purposeful practitioners of magic and I was practically salivating to hear more about their lives. Gosh, how I wish they were the main characters! They were so much more interesting than their nieces and great-nieces. I think Hoffman completely missed the mark there.
Even considering that, this came to be a comfort listen for me. That happens anytime there’s great character development in a story. Hoffman’s writing was the standout here. It lulled me into a state of complacency rather than frustration. Although, I do wish she had a specific destination in mind, rather than letting the reader/listener drift along in her words.
I was impressed enough with Hoffman’s writing ability that I plan on hearing more of her work. I’m curious to see whether “aimlessly drifting about” is her habitual style or if this particular story just got away from her. Obviously, I’m hoping for the latter. I’m also hoping that the upcoming prequel to Practical Magic will enhance my opinion of the Owens women’s story.
I’m sure this review is coming across as conflicting, but as I said, this was a weird one for me. I liked it enough to finish it and probably pick up the prequel, but just barely. If anything, I finished it hoping to find some sort of light at the end of the literary tunnel, which is exactly what I’ll still be searching for in the upcoming prequel.
Narration review: I don’t believe I’ve heard Christina Moore before, but the warmth of her voice gave this story much of it comforting effect. The pitch of her voice was just dynamic enough to adequately convey personality and emotion.
However, like the story itself, the narration lacked something. Her pacing was a little odd. Every now and then, she would pause a beat too long which had a jarring effect. I also think something was a little off with the audio quality. Throughout the entire production, Moore sounded as if she were speaking through a wall.
This performance wasn’t enough to make me particularly want to pick up another title narrated by Moore, but it also wasn’t enough to make me avoid her either. This was just more of a reading than a performance.♣︎