Just when you thought we left the Wizarding World behind…surprise! A new adventure arises! But wait…is this a prequel? Yes, and no. It’s not a direct prequel since it does not focus on Harry specifically, but it occurs 70 years before he was born and it’s events are related to Harry’s adventures in as yet unexplored ways.
It’s 1926 in New York City. It’s a glamorous era, but also the age of prohibition. It’s a great time to be alive…unless you are a witch or wizard. Because being a witch or wizard in North America isn’t like being one in Britain. While still secretive, witches and wizards in Britain still are free to express themselves and mingle with muggles. But North American witches and wizards are forbidden to have any unnecessary interactions with no-majs (muggles) and, because of prior persecution, live in fearful secret.
Enter Newt Scamander (of the famous Hogwarts text, but before he actually wrote the text). He is on his way to Arizona via New York on a personal matter, and he’s brought a magical case with him. Of course, if you know anything about Newt, it’s no ordinary case; it’s filled with magical creatures Newt is either studying or caring for (or both). While in New York, Newt unknowingly breaks a North American law when he brings his creatures with him. Shortly thereafter, he breaks another law when he encounters the no-maj Jacob Kowalski and doesn’t obliviate him after Jacob witnesses Newt doing magic. This forces witch and ex-Auror Tina Goldstein to take Newt into custody at MACUSA (North America equivalent of the Ministry of Magic) in an effort to reclaim her Auror status.
Things don’t go as planned when Newt discovers that some of his creatures have escaped. To complicate matters, something seems to be terrorizing New York, attacking no-majs. Newt’s escaped creatures are blamed and hunted despite Newt’s insistence of their innocence. It then is up to Newt, Tina, Queenie (Tina’s legilimens sister), and Jacob to find Newt’s creatures before they get hurt and discover the cause of the attacks.
While JK Rowling released a version of Harry Potter’s first year textbook a few years ago for charity, the actual Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is her newest wizarding work. It is not, in fact, a novel but a screenplay/script from the movie. As such, it’s a very quick read but it still contains all of the elements that make a Rowling wizarding book. What makes this book extra special for me is the artwork of MinaLima, the dynamic duo artists team behind all of the Harry Potter stories and movies. Add to that the introduction of a new character who is a Hufflepuff (badger house pride!) who is lovable, dorky, but totally exceptional at what he does and I have not only found a new wizarding book but my favorite wizarding world character.
I highly recommend watching the movie then reading the script. I find that reading the script afterwards allowed me to capture what I missed in the movie since I could read dialogue I missed hearing or expand on short scenes. Either way works, but I think reading the script afterwards allowed a much better glimpse at the movie itself.
Let me be perfectly frank: I literally screamed when I heard JK Rowling was releasing a new wizarding story. I laughed when I finally saw the trailer for the movie. I grinned like an idiot throughout the entire movie. And I squealed like a teenager when I read the script. I can’t wait for the blu-ray release to live through it all again. It’s so go to be back!
My rating: 5/5