Hogwarts, An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, by J. K. Rowling

31538647Hogwarts An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide takes you on a journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You’ll venture into the Hogwarts grounds, become better acquainted with its more permanent residents, learn more about lessons and discover secrets of the castle. . . all at the turn of a page. (from Goodreads)

I knew beforehand that this book compiles some of Rowling’s writings from Pottermore, which I had already read. What I wasn’t expecting was the whole “that Simpson’s episode hosted by Troy McClure where he introduces excerpts from previous episodes”* vibe. So bad that it’s good. It’s super short also, so I read it one day while commuting, it’s great to kill some time.

*S07E10

 

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Quidditch Through the Ages, by Kennilworthy Whisp

424020Did you know that: there are 700 ways of committing a foul in Quidditch? The game first began to evolve on Queerditch Marsh – What Bumphing is? That Puddlemere United is oldest team in the Britain and Ireland league (founded 1163). All this information and much more could be yours once you have read this book: this is all you could ever need to know about the history, the rules – and the breaking of the rules – of the noble wizarding sport of Quidditch. (from Goodreads)

Just like with Fantastic Beasts, here is another of Hogwarts’ textbooks that I’ve read uncountable times in the past, and I decided to re-read, for those good times. But, unlike FB, this one is more like a history book, as you could imagine for its self-explanatory title, and this one didn’t belong to Harry Potter, it was property of Hogwarts’ Library, so there aren’t any funny notes through the pages, or else the writer would have suffered an awful hex.
This wasn’t my favorite when I was a kid, but in all these years I’ve grown fond of history and I actually read history books for pleasure, so I actually enjoyed this book so much more than before. Even when it’s made-up history. Or isn’t?

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Newt Scamander

2490849A copy of Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them resides in almost every wizarding household in the country. Now Muggles too have the chance to discover where the Quintaped lives, what the Puffskein eats and why it is best not to leave milk out for a Knarl. (from Goodreads)

It was a long time since I last read this, but my perception of it didn’t change much after this last re-reading, probably because it’s pretty straightforward (I mean, what enlightening difference could I note in an encyclopedia-like book?) and because I read this book like a gazillion times before. There was even a time when I tried to draw these beasts, following the descriptions given. Anyway…
I mostly wanted to re-read it before watching the movie, not because I wanted to refresh the story (there’s no story: like I said, it’s a textbook), but because I wanted to refresh the descriptions of theses beasts and spotted them before someone in the movie had to explain it to me (or to a clueless character). It worked, kind of… Those things in the movie were a lot more shinier and flamboyant that I could ever imagine, but ok…

Of all the satellite books written about the wizarding world, this has always been my favorite, mostly because all those little handwritten notes in the margins (after all, this book is a copy of the original own by Harry Potter himself) and because it allows to imagine all these fantastic creatures and gives us the hope that dodos aren’t actually extinct, which is such a relief.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany and, apparently, J. K. Rowling

29058155It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places. (from Goodreads)

I can’t discuss much about this book without spoiling it. I’m going to assume you didn’t read it and you plan to do it, so I’ll stick to generalities and superficial aspects without talking much about what actually happens. considering that there was a lot of secrecy about the plot and all that.  

  • I’m not into reading scripts, plays or anything that was written to be performed. I wanted to read this, however, because duh, Harry Potter. So one of the better things about it is that is a very straightforward reading, and I read it in just one sitting. One of the bad things about it is, obviously, that lacks of any writing apart from dialogues and few indications of place, time and scenography. I guess this last thing is where one misses the most Rowling’s work.
  • I liked what they did with the Malfoys and the relationship between Albus and Scorpius… I was about to write a little about the other characters, but I think I hate everybody else. I never really liked Harry, not even during the books, so that stays the same. Ginny is good as a mother, I guess. They didn’t get Ron. Albus is pure teenage-angst during the entire thing, a lot like Harry in the 5th book. Scorpius was my fave.
  • Certain particular new character and it’s backstory is pure bananas and it was predictable and I hate it.
  • Mostly, it was a constant state of WTF.

I can’t say I liked it but I can’t either say that I didn’t. It was enjoyable, I guess, in the way fan fiction is enjoyable: it fills a whole, but very loosely.

I hope the play was good.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling

9788475967769Rereading this book just made me realize how long has been since I last read the series and that most of my memories of it are actually from the movies. It was practically like reading it for the first time, finding so many forgotten little details and scenes that didn’t get to or were changed in the films.

It was also a very special reading because it was my first time reading an entire novel in catalan! I studied it for three years a long time ago and even when, thanks to the internet, I have the chance to practice a little reading almost every day, reading a literary text is somehow different. I couldn’t but notice every little difference between this and the Spanish translation I grew up with, and was very surprised and amused by some of the choices, which make the whole experience even more entertaining.

Oh, and in case you never read the book or watched the movie: this is Harry’s third year at Hogwarts and it doesn’t get easier for him, as he happens to be surrounded by grim omens (at least, according to the Divination professor) and the menace of this dangerous prisoner who escaped from Azkaban -the terrifying Wizarding World’s jail- with the only goal of find him and kill him.

The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling

17251093“When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?”  (from goodreads)

I LOVED this book, I enjoyed its reading so much!

What I wrote above is what the book says about itself and it’s a great synopsis, but the actual story is so thick and intricate that it’s really hard to put in a few words. Because it’s such a tiny town (“small town, big hell” we say here) every character is intertwined with the rest in so many levels, that the little acts and moves they make affects the entire “ecosystem”. At the beginning goes a little slow, but then I realized it was a necessary measure to present every character and their background and motivations, which make them very real. Once this is done, the story moves forward smoothly but steady, and at the end gains a vertiginous speed and concludes in a very unexpected way. The shock lasts for a while.  

In case you’re interested, there’s a three part adaptation from the BBC, which I watch right after I finished the book but ,honestly, I didn’t like it. There are a lot of things changed, and it feels superficial. But the casting choices are great, the actors looked pretty much how I imagined the characters, so that’s a good point in its favor.