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

Opening sentence: ‘A large, isolated, derelict chateau emerges from the darkness.’

For the first time, I broke my rule of reading the book before seeing the film. However, as this is a screenplay rather than a novel, reading it after seeing the film actually turned out to be a very useful way to – word for word – fill in the gaps I missed thanks to a nappy emergency… I had my baby with me due to the wonderful Big Scream initiative at the Picturehouse cinemas – special screenings you can bring babies to, so mums can still get their film fix.

It goes without saying that I love Harry Potter and the whole extended Wizarding World. There is a big part of me that wishes J.K.Rowling would release a new Harry book every few years, forever, so anticipation levels were high for this one.

Once immersed in the screenplay format, I found this a pleasure to read. Fantastic Beasts is the story of Newt Scamander, an English wizard who arrives in New York in 1926 on a mission to release one of his fantastic beasts back into their natural habitat. Once in America he gets in a little trouble, fights a dark wizard, makes friends with witches and a muggle and, of course, introduces us to some Fantastic Beasts.

Given the title, the beasts do end up playing a smaller role than I thought due to the focus on the parallel plot of finding the source of the Obscurus (an out-of-control magical force) that is destroying New York city.

I’m not going to say I loved it as much as the original books, but as both another angle into the Wizarding World and as a standalone story, this is a highly enjoyable read that I definitely want the next instalment of.

Rating: 4/5

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