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Book's Big Change In Hocus Pocus 2 Explained

Warning: This article contains spoilers for "Hocus Pocus 2"

Twenty-nine years ago, Disney released "Hocus Pocus," a magical movie about a group of children battling against a trio of musical witches. It, uh, was not very well received at the time. Still, a clever brew of consistent October airings and an inescapable fondness for 1990s media transformed the critical flop into a cult classic. Now, 29 years later, Disney has released "Hocus Pocus 2," a sequel that brings the sort-of-sinister Sanderson sisters back into the limelight for one more nostalgic adventure. 

While the protagonists — Becca (Whitney Peak), Izzy (Belissa Escobedo), and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) — are brand new, "Hocus Pocus 2" sees the return of many familiar faces. There's Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary (Kathy Najimy) because there's no hocus to pocus without the original Sanderson sisters. And the exhausted, shambling zombie, Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones), also returns to add a little flair. 

But the prevalence of familiarity doesn't prevent "Hocus Pocus 2" from changing it up. While not technically a character, the Sanderson sister's book of spells (fully entitled "The Manual of Witchcraft and Alchemy") gets something of an emotional makeover. It's not altogether explained in the sequel, but it adds a layer of intrigue to the goings-on, so let's break it down the best we can.

The book of spells has feelings now?

Since the beginning, The Manual of Witchcraft and Alchemy has been more human than one might prefer. The first movie describes the tome as being wrapped in leather made from human skin (Disney used to be pretty dark), and there's an undeniable human eyeball affixed to the cover's latch. These attributes did nothing to change the book's status as, well, a book in "Hocus Pocus." At best, when the eye opened, the cause was assumed to be evil magic, not personality. But in "Hocus Pocus 2," Book is shown to experience emotions. 

When Becca is searching for it, audiences get to see Book "hiding" in fear. When Winifred willingly joins her sisters in death, the book cries. These aren't the acts of a lifeless, inanimate object, but rather these are expressions from a thinking, sentient creature. While it departs from the original version, a thinking book isn't that unexpected in fantasy media. In recent memory alone, the "Harry Potter" franchise features more than a few books that blur the lines between the living and the shelf-bound, and anyone who says the Necronomicon from "Army of Darkness" is a wholly inanimate object probably needs their media literacy skills checked. 

Book's evolution is a poignant change in "Hocus Pocus 2" because the movie revolves around legacy themes. In brief, the film shows power passing to a new generation, represented by the book of spells changing hands. By giving the Manual of Witchcraft and Alchemy a personality, "Hocus Pocus 2" lends weight to the cyclical exchange by suggesting that it fosters a bond with each user.