When I heard that there were not one but four (!) new eBooks coming out pertaining to the world of Harry Potter, I was more than excited. I’ve read the original novels, the screenplay of A Cursed Child, and although I haven’t read any of the other accompanying materials, I’m one of those Potterheads who loves when the author, J.K. Rowling, keeps adding details to the world through Pottermore (and Twitter). I preordered the lot of them, but I was most excited to read the first one about Charms and Defence Against the Dark Arts, since those (and Transfiguration) would be the most interesting to me.
This non-fiction short-form eBook features content which is adapted from the audiobook Harry Potter: A History of Magic—inspired by the British Library exhibition of the same name.
How to become invisible, to make someone fall in love with you, to transform into another creature: these are all things that people have believed in, yearned for, or feared, throughout history. Spells and charms have captured the imagination for hundreds of years. Warding off evil is also something that has concerned people throughout history. From werewolves to all manner of snakes in the wizarding world, you’d learn how to face a number of strange and frightening forces in Defence Against the Dark Arts classes.
This eBook short examines the colourful characters and curious incidents of the real history of magic, and how they relate to the Hogwarts lesson subjects of Charms and Defence Against the Dark Arts from the Harry Potter stories.
I’m honestly not going to give this review much of my time, because I was so disappointed by it. The way the books were announced, it made it seem like J.K. Rowling wrote them (or at least had her voice in here somewhere), and I was very sad when I got halfway through and realized that although she was mentioned, it didn’t really have much to do with her.
We did get to learn about some real-world magical traditions from Africa and Ancient Rome/Greece and how they influenced the magical world of Harry Potter, but there wasn’t much detail. Whoever wrote this also kept trying to tie bits of information back to the book by quoting different passages, but I rarely found the messages compatible. It just really wasn’t interesting to me at all…even as a history lover.
It’s quite possible that this kind of thing is for you—and if you can get enjoyment out the these short eBooks, I’m very happy for you—but I feel like they were marketed as one thing and gave us something completely different. The one positive thing I can say is that it was short and took me less than an hour to read, so I guess it wasn’t a giant waste of my time.
“Who would have thought that battling mosquitos would set the stage for the most dangerous spell in the wizarding world?” —Pottermore Publishing, Harry Potter: A Journey Through Charms & Defence Against the Dark Arts
Thank you to Artem Maltsev on Unsplash for the featured photo that resembles the Harry Potter world.