Harry Potter: A History of Magic

The world of Harry Potter is still alive, now in a book where you can read about the fascinating collection of Harry Potter related items at the British Library. Dive into this book and learn about the mythologies Rowling was working with, the ones she created herself, and how it impacts the way we interact with literature. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Natalie Dormer with interviews with museums curators, illustrators, and readings from the audiobooks, and it was an immersive experience that left me in awe of all that Harry Potter has been in the past twenty years and its enduring legacy on our lives.

Each chapter, and there are 26, has a different theme. There are several chapters on divination, astronomy, magical creatures, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and herbology. Each chapter looks at a slice of the British Library’s exhibition on Harry Potter and the history of magic, from historical representations of unicorns (and duocorns..) to narwahls and lycanthropy novels and the mandrakes and more. It’s absolutely fascinating as someone who loves the story behind your favorite novels.

While the interaction with the exhibit was obviously a major part of the story, I also enjoyed the discussions with the narrators of the audiobooks, Jim Dale and Stephen Fry, and illustrators for various Harry Potter editions that discussed their process behind embodying the characters, creating their voices, drawing them or the creatures on the page, et cetera. It felt like a behind the scenes look at books as opposed to the movie behind the scenes, which exist readily.  The interviews were to the point but illuminating on the care that went into creating every single aspect of the Harry Potter world.

Ultimately, this book was a fun way to spend ten hours and has me energized for the next Fantastic Beasts movie that comes out in November!

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