Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tales From Halloweentown: The Witch's Amulet

Hello and welcome to Eldritch October, this is the end of the Month, though through this time we've been reviewing media with a spooky theme. Films, comics, and books alike featuring eerie tales. This year I've chosen the Disney TV movie series Halloweentown, but with all the movies reviewed there was one piece of work that's left, rare, and an equal to it's visual contributors. That's right, a book will be the final review for this Eldritch time of the year. Keep your wits about you, as we creep closer to All Hallow Even.

Here's a few things I've learned from reading this book, it's a year later from the events that was in the fourth film (Return to Halloweentown), Ethan (Musical Witch) is the current boyfriend, and clothes will not me mentioned or will be scarce throughout the short story (assume everyone is nude, or in their underwear, it's a Disney book and all). With that out of the way let's start with the review, and the perfect place would be the cover, which looks like they stole the amulet off of Yugi Muto.

First problem the sibling dynamic is off, Marnie doesn't like her brother and now that her sister is back from, we never really got to know one place that she went to nor knew where that might have been in relation to our world in the fourth movie. I know people don't want someone watching over them, though this college is more like a Summer camp, it's not like Marnie would be hovering over Sophie and if it's for education it would be an experience that both the Youngest Daughter and the Oldest Daughter will share. Since the Youngest Daughter got to spend the longest time with the Grandmother, meaning she's got the most training out of the family, other than the Mother, but none of the Mother's desire to be mortal. Marnie has a boyfriend and it's the Musical Witch, again they don't bring up Cody, though they did bring up that he was involved with trying to make the exchange program fail. Seems Marnie is more like a teen camp Counselor rather than a college student, always giggling and using her finger to open doors rather then Welsh and wafting.

Ethan enters the room after the Youngest Daughter, I find it weird that he's trying out a pet name now, also "Pumpkin" isn't a question, there's no context and nothing can be assumed even though he's holding a trunk it's still not right. It seems he doesn't know what a trunk is or he's looking for a pumpkin or the trunk is full of pumpkins and he can't figure out why? Anyhow the characters act out of character, since Sophie (the Youngest Daughter) is acting less helpful and more aggressive, not sure why she's being a bratty teen. Anyhow we meet Fred, a friend of the Son during the Camp thing or is he a student of the school too, it's not really made clear if he's 13 or 20, though the Son invites Fred to lunch with the Family.

When the Family were meeting Fred (who's a surfer Scarecrow, that's smart) Gwen (The Mother) was wearing a floppy straw hat and a camera, that's it. I'm just saying, the costume designers in this book are going very minimalist, they could have thrown a Hawaiian shirt on her or something since Gwen is going on a trip and the Grandmother is teaching at the school. Fred works with the Son as a lab assistant, they're really good friends, though I miss the Troll girl, sometimes I feel that a lot of the series was forgotten, which makes me think about how much of the lore is respected. Also Fred is in love with Marnie, well in lust, since it's only by sight, he knows nothing about her or who she is, just that she's Dylan's sister. Sophie gets a feeling about something bad happening, it's par for the year, though in "Return to Halloweentown" it was 3-6 people, "Halloweentown High" it was about 2-3 people, in the first two movies it was just one and a henchman. It's gonna be a baseball team after this family, I'm assuming for the book.

After lunch Fred is feeling like he's worthless in the same field as the Son, if the Son really does feel that Fred is worth as much as he thinks Fred is smart, then the Son and Fred need to figure out a way to prove Fred within the lab and show how he's worth more than a dish washer and literal scarecrow. This brings up the class value again, in this books they're doing a great job of telling the readers that witches are on top and everything else are either monsters or lesser. Though it's from the point of view of someone at the top of the class system, though it's still at least showing that class is being seen and evaluated as a dynamic within the world that's been established.

Gom, Professor Steeping, and Tea Steeping all posing infront of the Phantom Zone Projector.
They still don't know who took the picture since Gom has the camera.

Fred over hears that La Biel is evil and that he has a cellular witch's mirror(?), okay, the witch's glass is just like a video phone, it's loud and one can see the other's face in it. So what does that mean, that the (at this point is just a) phone on private, so it's like a burner phone for witches. Also why did that mystery person need to call, were they really that worried that they'd mess up this whole thing, whatever it is they planned for the Son? La Biel starts to show his true colors by taking memories from the Son, Marnie figures it must be the Gift from the fourth movie. So she tries to give the Son his memories back, so they need to use the reverse spell with the name of the person that used it. This has changed from the second film that was just saying the Welsh word backwards. Also wands are used and not used, it's not constant what makes magic, is it incantations or spells or potions or is it objects of power?

The Grandmother is cued into what's happening and sends Marnie and Fred to Rumora, who turns out to be the witch in Hansel and Gretel. There's a lot of padding in this chapter, also the writer doesn't talk about the Mother's clothes again. I mean, she puts in detail about what she's wearing on the beach, scarf, lay, floppy straw hat, though again, nothing telling us she's in the bathing suit that she was frazzled finding or any clothes for that matter. I'm not sure if this Disney Book is for all ages. It seems that Rumora is not a meat eater and those kids gave slander about her in the human world, so she swore that she would never talk about others behind their back. Though understands the importance of the matter and gives Marnie and Fred soup that twirled into the true name of La biel, Belial.

Then they dash back to the school were the Grandmother tells her that Sophie is stuck in the Phantom Zone and her, Lois, and Superman need to… sorry, wrong book. Marnie needs to find Sophie in there, even though in Halloweentown High all three of them (The Mother, the Oldest Daughter, and the Grandmother) needed to open the portal into that dimension, which leaves me wondering how powerful was the bad guy in that film to place someone in there, also in Return to Halloweentown Periwinkle did the same thing. Hmm, it seems the spell to put someone into a witch's glass is easy, though getting them out is hard or the plot is bending toward connivance.

Marnie finds and rescues Sophie and Maggie, a witch that's a twin of the Grandmother, which is shocking that Maggie didn't think Marnie was her Grandmother. Anyhow like that Mel Gibson movie where he travels through time, Maggie ages 800 years, blah, blah, blah, no one ages in the Phantom Zone, curse you Superman, you meddling kid, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Everyone starts talking to Maggie and finds out more about their lost great Aunt. And all her boyfriends, which is really not a needed focus at the moment, though it's revealed that William Shakespeare was a past suitor. They haven't seen her in years and they just assumed that a loved one became estranged, not dead, though they just pick up where they left off, it's not something that feels like how one would greet a long lost loved one.

Oh, I forgot to mention that insanity, they used a computer and the first link on it, not a website or search engine, the first link that they typed into the computer was something that referenced the backstory of our villain.

We're at the very end of the book, the bad guy has won again, it's hopeless for the heroes to win, it's really pointless and impossible for the most part. Anyhow, they plan their victory as the villain and his nephew Stan who has a crush on the youngest Daughter, Sophie, while Belial loves her long lost Great Aunt Maggie, that's confused for being the Grandmother, even though Belial hasn't seen Maggie change age, so he would have no reason to think that this is what she'd look like when she's older. They switch the twins, which is odd, though the layout of the room isn't mentioned (so it's not like Belial saw this happen) like most of the clothes in this book, then something unexpected, the writer talks about the Grandmother's purple dress and red cape, where Maggie is wearing a green dress.

Someone that's not naked, finally!

And we end with something that would never happen, because there was no set up like all the films, so it's running with the idea of a good story, though nothing setting up events that will help the plot during the final scene. Anyhow, the Son is a Crow and 'caws' that if they put too many of Sophie's tears into the test tube it'll screw up the formula and backfire. So now the bad guy is a baby since Ethan translated this message from the Crow Son to the Great Aunt. Yeah, so the Mother pops into the room, again we don't know if she's wearing clothes, so I'm assuming that she's wearing a floppy straw hat and a lay around hee neck storming the lab to save her family, naked, tanned from Hawaii, though nude. The Great Aunt and the Mother (though the Mother thinks it's her Mother) change everyone back. So everyone was turned back to normal and set free to explain what happened to the Mother properly, also the Grandmother's dress turned into a skirt, oh continuity, everything is explained and fixed by magic, that's the only reason you need it.

Okay so everything ties up, Sophie graduated from Summer School/Camp, Marnie grows a bit more as a person, and gains a romance that's a little stronger from the events of this book. Three things bother me, we didn't really need Maggie in the story, the Son and Mother don't grow at all, and why did Sophie and Fred become an item? Yeah I know he's a scarecrow, though it's still weird that someone who's (assuming he's about Dylan's age) 18-20 is holding hands or starting a relationship with a 13 year old, and the maturity gap is a bit much to believe. I mean there was NO implication that either character was interested in the other before this meal. Oh also, this was the worst ending, since it set up another book to start where this left off, with Benny at the wheel honking for the main cast to come with him to Halloweentown, since there's trouble with the portal, which seemed unstable in the second film, though was fixed through out the rest of the series, but is broken again.

Lucy Ruggles is the writer of the novel, she's written other books for Disney (Minutemen and Camp Rock), about five novels in total. Three Camp Rock and one Minutemen and one Halloweentown, that's based on Amazon. GoodRead says that she's written one more book called "You Again" in 2010. As a book this left a lot to the imagination, as a writer there were many problems not only in plot, but in grammar. I enjoyed this more than the Third and Fourth film, but it wasn't as good as the Second movie. If you like to read vague character details and have a quick read between waiting at the deli and reality then this is your book. If not, I can tell you there are more anthology books filled with better written short stories, even about teen witches.

I trust you enjoyed the inspection, thank you for reading.
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Keep well and Stay well.

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