Three new Potterverse eBooks from JK Rowling. Do we really want them?
Remember your excitement when you heard that the fascinating books that existed in Potterverse were actually coming to a book store near you? From Quidditch through the Ages, The Tales of Beedle The Bard and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, these fictional books actually being realised were perhaps the closest you could get to receiving an acceptance letter to Hogwarts.
These expansions to the Harry Potter canon were welcome, because the thought of Potterverse ending seemed like the worst thing ever. Or at least until Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The play, which was inaccurately marketed as the eighth book in the Harry Potter series, has left the world divided. While some say they loved revisiting Potter and his friends, most experienced a gag reflex at multiple points in the script.
Which is why when Pottermore announced a new Potterverse series from JK Rowling, instead of bobbing up and down in joy, some of us are now more skeptical than excited.
But first, more on the books
Presented in the eBook format, these 'Stories of Hogwarts' include three books titled Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists, Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies and Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide.
While the titles seem delightfully true to the original Harry Potter cheek, post the Cursed Child debacle it's worth asking why Rowling wouldn't let go of Harry. But we'll get to that later...
The eBooks will be out on 6 September and are priced at $2.99 each, which comes to an affordable Rs 200-plus for us Indian fans. They've already been listed on Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble, which means that they should make their way to Amazon India soon.
With promises to "take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters' lives and surprises from the wizarding world", these books carry the additional responsibility of undoing the harm caused by Cursed Child. It's almost as if Rowling is offering an antidote to a powerful poison.
But before you take that plunge, the synopses for these books may help you test the waters:
1. Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists promises "a glimpse into the darker side of the wizarding world, revealing the ruthless roots of Professor Umbridge, the lowdown on the Ministers for Magic and the history of the wizarding prison Azkaban. You will also delve deeper into Horace Slughorn's early years as Potions master at Hogwarts - and his acquaintance with one Tom Marvolo Riddle."
2. In Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies you should find "stories of heroism, hardship and dangerous [focused on] two of the Harry Potter stories' most courageous and iconic characters: Minerva McGonagall and Remus Lupin. J.K. Rowling also gives us a peek behind the closed curtains of Sybill Trelawney's life, and you'll encounter the reckless, magical-beast-loving Silvanus Kettleburn along the way."
3. The most exciting title of the three, Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide offers to take "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."
While the last title reads like something straight out of Dumbledore's laptop bookmarks, the first two would probably be interesting flashbacks into the lives of characters we love and hate. Well, As long as there's no Time Turner involved.
The Potter market
In the post-Cursed Child era, it's clear that Potter is now being fed to us as a part of a scheme to make easy money. While no one's complaining about Rowling, the world's first billionaire author, making more money, a lot of fans are worried that it's at the cost of diluting the Potter legacy.
The timing for the announcement of these books is a tad suspect too. It rides on the Cursed Child's publicity, releasing just five weeks from the date the play was first staged.
Now, if they are up to the standards of the original Potter books, these books may help undo the sense of disappointment some fans are reeling from thanks to Cursed Child. If they are anything like the Cursed Child, however, Rowling could do irreparable damage to a beloved franchise.
All in all, while these books might be great to add to our Harry Potter collection, the original 7 books on their own were more than satisfying. Maybe Rowling, rather than falling back on familiar ground, should experiment with her writing. Beyond the one off Casual Vacancy. For starters, can we have Robert Galbraith back please?