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Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic

Repeat author

Alice Hoffman is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include Magic Lessons and The Book of Magic and The Invisible Hour and The Marriage of Opposites and The Rules of Magic.

by Alice Hoffman

Quick take

It's the cult classic that started it all. Enter the lives of two witchy women attempting to escape their cursed fates.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Feminist


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NowAMovie

    Now a movie

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_3rdSeries

    Third in series


For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic...

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Practical Magic.

Why I love it

Growing up, I read everything I could get my hands on, the more magical the better. Yet on the weekends I spent with my dad, finding a quiet space to read could be tricky. When I couldn’t read, I gravitated to my second favorite love—the Practical Magic movie. For years, every time I visited my dad, I hid myself away and played my recorded VHS, disappearing into a world of magic and loss and sisterhood.

The story follows Sally and Gillian Owens, descendants of powerful women. Women the town blamed when anything went wrong. Orphaned as children, the sisters move in with their elderly aunts, who soothe neighborhood accusations of witchcraft with brownies for breakfast. Fear of the family curse sends the sisters down very different paths as adults, but when things go wrong, their sisterly bond is the only thing that can save them.

Or at least... that’s what happens in the movie. Having watched the film at least 100 times over the past twenty years, it’s overridden my memory of Alice Hoffman’s 1995 novel. I remember Teen Me being shocked at some of the differences between the two, but enough years have passed that I think it’s time to revisit the novel that launched a cult classic. If you’re ready to bask in the spooky season this October, I can think of no better read than Practical Magic. I’ll be picking up a copy to read again, too, and I hope you’ll join me.

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Member ratings (12,380)

  • Alyssa B.

    Chicopee, MA

    This is probably my favorite book ever… at least top 3! I went and bought a signed copy immediately after reading it. The entire Practical Magic series is magical. Wouldn’t change a thing! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Ananya T.

    Urbana , IL

    This is my favorite book of all time! It’s so beautifully crafted, and the story and characters will stay with you forever. The movie didn’t do it any justice. Read the book! It’ll change your life!

  • Heather T.

    Little Falls, NY

    I’m reading this series in order. First Magic Lessons and then this book. Very different from Magic Lessons but still a fun, entertaining, and beautiful read. Love this author and will read many more!

  • Anne L.

    Justice, IL

    What a lovely story! I read the series in order, as I felt I should. I’m grateful that this book was so sweet and mellow-nothing like the movie. Ms. Hoffman is my new favorite author! Loved them all!!

  • Leigh B.

    Parkville, MO

    I loved reading this book! I have watched the movie at least a thousand times, but realized very quickly that I was an Alice Hoffman fan after reading a few of her other novels. I couldn’t put it down