It is odd when the sequel of a cult classic gets released 25 years later. When it comes to ‘Hocus Pocus’, it is very welcome for thy fans. After so many rumors about an upcoming sequel, it manifests in book form.
‘Hocus Pocus And The All-New Sequel’ by A.W. Jantha is a book divided into two parts. The first part of the book is actually a novelization of the original 1993 film, while the second part is the sequel.
Since it has two clearly divided parts, I’ll treat them as two different books for the sake of this review.
The novelization of the film has two distinct objetives: to refresh the reader of the beloved film and give insight to some slight details about the story. This is a novelization that follows the plot very closely to the film, without deriving too much to understand the characters of even give nuance to some slight possibilities (like the fact that Max doesn’t get affected by the sisters potion at some point because he is no longer a virgin). At least they didn’t undermine the sexual themes from the movie as it is vital to understand many points of the film.
The author has a very specific set of vocabulary from the witches, so a dictionary could be handy. Once you understand several of these unknown words, you’ll start to understand them in context. The story is as fast paced as the original movie, only pausing at very specific scenes to convey information or express the emotions of the characters.
But it is just that, a scene by scene novelization that doesn’t add too much to the interpretation of the movie.
Even though there’s not much difference or additional information, it is a fun read that savvy readers will read in a couple of hours. The last chapters add some details to make a convincing follow up to the sequel that doesn’t affect the movie in any way.
The All-New Sequel
Twenty five years after the Sanderson incident, we meet Poppy, the daughter of Max and Allison. She has been haunted by the story of her parents during her whole life, wondering if the encounter they had as teenagers with the Sanderson sisters is even true. With the help of Isabella and Travis, they find out what’s that whole witch legend about, as they visit the Sanderson house on Halloween, on a full blood moon.
As with most generational sequels, this story includes some references and mentions about the original film, but it is able to develop its own story. One of the most welcome additions and portrayals in this novel is the fact that Poppy, the Dennissons’ daughter, is a lesbian clearly expressing her crush on Isabella. It is one of those subtle things that needs to be more present in media. Kudos for the author and Disney for allowing this kind of representation for the LGBTQ community.
Sometimes you’ll find early on the sequel some unnecessary mentions to other Disney properties. Even though it is logical that people would be dressed as these characters in Halloween, the author mentions so many that it felt as a crossover marketing ploy. The other clear annoyance to how the sequel begins is the constant mention of social media platforms to state that we are in present times. I mean, since the very beginning of the sequel it is mentioned that the story occurs in 2018, so I don’t find the need to mention every single social media platform to understand these are teenagers without moving the plot any forward.
Moving past these details, the novel develops and gets rid of most of the annoyances found during the first act of the sequel. Poppy, Isabella, and Travis head over to the Sanderson’s house when they decide on Halloween to see if all the stories from Poppy’s parents are true. After trying out a spirit board and some incantations….. They’re baaaaack!
Winifred, Mary, and Sarah start their effort to stay alive and rule the world. While the book was the main McGuffin in the original movie, it is also added what is called a blood moonstone to break the spell. In order to. As they try to find the blood moonstone, we learn about a lost Sanderson sister who is trying to make things right.
The stakes start to build up as everyone on Salem isn’t trustworthy. Poppy can’t contact their parents or Aunt Dani, and the last person they can ask for help turns their backs. Poppy, Isabella, and Travis team up with Katie Taylor, one of their school enemies, and start to search the blood moonstone.
This sequel outwits the reader by using tropes from the original movie in innovative ways. Now that the sisters are more adept at the current times, they’re not as dumb or easily deceived. This makes them a stronger menace for the main characters, trying different plans to achieve their objective. Winifred makes their chances of winning this time much more compelling, making you curious to how these teenagers could get out of this ugly mess.
What makes the sequel so strong after the first act is that it has a clear storyline that slowly builds up. The first act of this sequel works similar to the novel adaptation of the movie, but once the Sanderson sisters come back, all your framework is suddenly shattered. They can’t get help from anybody except in the underworld, lighting the candle won’t break the spell, and it is harder to outwit the Sanderson sisters. What begins as a very strange sequel with a great follow up to the storyline.
One of the things that I kept thinking while reading this book is how it relates to the rumors about a possible sequel. A.W. Jantha is an unknown author, so it could easily be a pseudonym. The book seems to be a proof of concept for a sequel, taking into account that it includes a lesbian character and Disney might want to see the reception of this story.
So far, ‘Hocus Pocus And The All New Sequel’ has been well received according to reviews. Even ‘Hocus Pocus’ producer David Kirschner during an interview in the podcast ‘Dizney Coast To Coast’ has confirmed that Disney has something in development. In a time where Disney doesn’t have many content related to Halloween, ‘Hocus Pocus’ could be an excellent story to fit in this time slot.
What makes this book interesting comes from the sequel, not the novelization of the film. Even though the adaptation isn’t a bad one, it just follows through the story without giving much detail. Still, it is a fun read to go through if you want to refresh the movie in a different way.
The sequel is what makes this book strong. It starts as a simple story, but it gets more complex as it moves on. There’s a good balance between characters and plot situations, keeping the pacing fresh for this sequel.
’Hocus Pocus And The All New Sequel’ is a great read for fans who want to see more of their favorite witches and are hopeful for a movie adaptation of this sequel. Share this book with friends that also enjoy the movie. Maybe if fans vote with their dollars, that rumored ‘Hocus Pocus’ sequel could finally become a reality.