I adore hokey holiday-themed movies…absolutely adore them. Not only to watch with my kids (although they do watch with me sometimes), but to enjoy all by myself several times each season. Among my favorites: the 1993 Halloween movie Hocus Pocus. Admittedly campy and over-acted, nonetheless I love to watch it at least ten times each October.
So, when I was shopping in Target this Fall and saw this book, I could not resist buying it. The book contains two sections: section one is a word-for-word recreation of the 1993 movie; and section two is a newly imagined sequel to the movie and the basis for a new Disney Channel original movie to air October 2019.
On Halloween night 1993 in Salem, Massachusetts, Max Dennison and Allison Watts unwittingly awoke three long-dead witches and had to fight to keep the witches from killing all of the children in Salem. In the (unnamed) sequel, we fast-forward twenty-five years and head back to Salem, Massachusetts where we Max and Allison married and parenting their seventeen-year-old daughter, Poppy Dennison.
Poppy has been raised knowing the story of the Sanderson witches and her parents battle to stop them. Although her parents do not publicize their belief in witches and magic, Poppy knows they fear Halloween and worry constantly that people ignorant of the Sanderson Sisters powers will accidentally conjure them once more. In order to keep Poppy safe, her parents demand she follow strict rules during the Halloween season and forbid her from visiting the Sanderson sisters home, which still stands alongside the town’s ancient cemetery.
Now almost an adult, Poppy has her doubts about her parent’s tale and finds herself bristling under her parents rules. She is sick of feeling outcast by her friends for her parent’s weird anti-Halloween obsession. When Isabella, the girl she has a desperate crush on, shows up at her house on Halloween night with a Ouija board, daring Poppy to come use it in the Sanderson house, Poppy agrees. Dragging along her best friend Travis — a science nerd who absolutely does not believe in ghosts — Poppy steals the keys to the house from her parents safe and leads the trio into the cemetery.
The trouble begins almost immediately, it seems as if the cemetery is trying to prevent them from reaching the Sanderson house, and once there Isabella admits she does not actually want to play a game but rather use the Sanderson sister’s spell-book to cast spells. Going against all of her parents rules (and her better judgement) Poppy agrees and the three cast a spell that causes an whirlwind to tear through the house.
The whirlwind is so strong it alerts Poppy’s parents who arrive and are instantly caught up in the spell; they disappear just as the witches reappear. Now armed with only the book, the three teens must find a way to prevent the witches from causing more damage, find a way to send them back to their graves, and bring Poppy’s parents back.
A fun sequel to a story I love, with lots of modern details that make it feel familiar but fresh. My 13-year-old also loved the story and we agree the movie is a must-watch once it airs.