It’s been a very Potter year. By now, you’ve probably all heard about the new Harry Potter books, three e-books that collect the new writing on Pottermore into an easy-to-read form. “Pottermore Presents” is a mix of old writing and new, so they aren’t exactly new Harry Potter books. Here’s what I thought of the decision to package the stories like this, and a review of the books themselves!
The stories are as magical as ever.
I started with the third volume of the new Harry Potter books, Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide. This volume is all about Hogwarts, the castle itself (with its iconic moving staircases), the history of how students started riding the Hogwarts Express to the castle (hint: it wasn’t always so easy), the backstory of the Chamber of Secrets, and general knowledge about the castle. A lot of this information was readily available on Pottermore, but the new format is obviously more accessible.
The first volume, entitled Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies, is my favorite. This volume includes the biographies of both Minerva McGonagall and Remus Lupin, both of which had me teary-eyed all over again. These two bios are also included on the Pottermore website, but the new material from this book includes the stories of Sybill Trelawney and Silvanus Kettleburn, the Care of Magical Creatures teacher before Hagrid. His story was actually laugh-out-loud funny!
The second volume of the new Harry Potter books, Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists, also included some amazing new material, including the biography of the complex Horace Slughorn, a character I absolutely loved getting to know better. This volume also included a very nasty portrait of Dolores Umbridge, the worst character in literature ever, and a very interesting history of every Minister for Magic since the 18th century! I am always floored by the detail and creativity in Jo’s world.
My favorite passage from this volume was the Peeves story! Maybe my favorite character…
So where’s that Encyclopedia, huh?
When these new Harry Potter books were announced, the biggest complaint across the board was that they were e-books, not print. The Potter fandom is used to having print, bound copies of every tiny piece of minutiae, and the switch to all-digital was hugely disappointing. It’s also strange that the company wouldn’t try to capitalize on selling more expensive print copies; these could sell for $12 each easily in print, instead of less than $3 digitally.
Finally, a lot of people were wondering if we’d ever get that Potter encyclopedia, dammit! These new Harry Potter books are definitely a step in the right direction, if the Pottermore people (and Jo) keep it coming. In the meantime, if the team keeps hearing the call for print versions, we may be able to snag those, too.
What’s the verdict?
At the end of the day, I love having the Pottermore material collected offsite in a way that’s easier for me to read. These volumes hardly encompass the whole of the new writing on Pottermore, but it’s a start. If they keep releasing these, I’ll buy them with enthusiasm. Truly, diving into the wizarding world again felt like coming home.