Monday, 28 August 2017

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - J.K. Rowling


Ministry of Magic Classification XX

The Diricawl originated in Mauritius. A plump-bodied, fluffy-feathered, flightless bird, the Diricawl is remarkable for its method of escaping danger. It can vanish in a puff of feathers and reappear elsewhere. The Phoenix shares this ability. Interestingly, muggles were once fully aware of the existence of the Diricawl, though they knew it by the name of 'dodo'. Unaware that the Diricawl could vanish at will, muggles believe they have hunted this species to extinction. As this seems to have raised muggle awareness of the dangers of slaying their fellow creatures indiscriminately, the International Confederation of Wizards has never deemed it appropriate that the muggles should be made aware of the continued existence of the Diricawl.'

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a textbook at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I can't emphasise enough that this book is essentially that textbook, and has little to nothing to do with the movie of the same name. Although it does have Eddie Redmayne narrating, who also plays Newt Scamander in the movie. That was a really nice touch. I felt like the foreword of this book actually gave him so much more personality than that whole book, so that's something. There's also cute little sound effects and the such, which I loved.

There's not that much I can actually say about this book. It lists the creatures in an alphabetical order, giving them a classification based on how easy they are to tame (starting at X) to how dangerous they can be to wizards (ending at XXXXX). There's also some description about each of them, and as I hope my chosen quote conveys, most of these are quite witty and fun. Newt also comes across as very passionate when it comes to his trade, which is always a pleasure to see.

On the other hand, there were some clear continuity errors, and things present in the books were glossed over or left unmentioned. It's also not clear if this is the full Hogwarts textbook, but either way, it felt quite flimsy. There wasn't enough knowledge (note that the quote above is all there is on the Diricawl) about the beasts and furthermore, there were not enough beasts. And of course, in a Harry Potter style, Great Britain and Ireland seems to have 90% of the world's indigenous beasts. Maybe it's that they have more knowledge of the creatures in this area, but since the book itself doesn't say this, it feels like a plothole than anything.

This book was a fun little creature, really. It wasn't a 5/5 work - I wanted a lot more detail about most of these fantastic beasts. It doesn't even remark on many notions that have been established in the books (i.e. an antidote for Basilisk venom), and that felt a bit weak. Regardless, Rowling's wit and humour shone through these words, and it was enjoyable for what it was.

This is slightly irrelevant but as this is a charity book for Comic Relief and Rowling's charity Lumos, I find it sort of outrageous that the Finnish edition 'Ihmeolennot ja niiden olinpaikat' (and the two other books, the Quidditch one and Beetle the Bard) is sold for just under 20€ by the publisher. It's a tiny book with barely a hundred pages, for 20€? I could swear that the the Finnish versions are a) not not going to the mostly to the charity or b) too expensive to actually help the charity since no one can actually afford them.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 47: A book that would cover two subjects from the challenge list! I'd been saving this category for a book I couldn't fit elsewhere and now that time has come. Scary stuff.

1 comment:

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