Sunday, 5 November 2017

Book review: Harry Potter: A History of Magic (Various Authors)


This year, 2017, J. K. Rowling, Bloomsbury and the curators of the British Library joined together in a once-in-a-lifetime colaboration to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. A brand new exhibition opened its doors in London, taking visitors in.
Harry Potter: A History of Magic is the companion to that unique collaboration, filled with weird, wonderful and inspiring artefacts from the British Library archives and unseen treasures from J. K. Rowling's personal collection. This book invites you to delve deeper into the curriculum at Hogwarts School of Witchraft and Wizardry - from Astronomy and Potion classes to Charms and Divination.

A host of experts (Steve Backshall, the Reverend Richard Coles, Owen Davies, Julia Eccleshare, Roger Highfield, Steve Kloves, Lucy Mangan, Anna Pavord and Tim Peake), who offer a personal perspective on their magical theme, are on hand to guide you through each magical subject with a commissioned essay, leading you into a treasure trove of artefacts from the British Library and other collections around the world. Readers will be able to pore over ancient spell books, marvel at celestial globes and unfurl amazing illuminated scrolls that reveal the secret of the Elixir of Life, vials of dragon's blood, serpent wands, curious mandrake roots, painted centaurs and a genuine witch's broomstick, in a book that shows J.K. Rowling's magical inventions alongside their cultural and historical forebears with exclusive manuscripts, sketches and illustrations from the Harry Potter archive.

Naturally I went to my local bookstore when I heard this book was out which, unfortunately for me and the portuguese people, it took one week from its publication date to hit the portuguese shelves. Let's be real, though: we've waited way longer than that for other books so we can sort of consider ourselves lucky because one week is not that much. I had both this book and its companion in my hands (Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History of Magic) and here's a piece of advice: buy the first if you're interested. From the quick look I took at it, the companion is merely a shorter version and I felt like it was directioned towards a younger crowd.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic is a book filled with historic artefacts somehow related to many subjects J. K. Rowling talks about in her books and we can see where she drew her inspiration from so if you're looking for an actual Harry Potter History of Magic this is not for you. To be honest, what I enjoyed the most weren't the exhibition parts but the books' excerpts where they show J. K. Rowling's doodling and her thoughts and early drafts planning the series where you can see how it has evolved. I also loved the illustrations done by Jim Kay included in the newest illustrated editions of the first three books. After reading the book I can say I will definitely not miss being in the London exhibition because I feel like the book has it all, except, perhaps, the souvenirs.

So if you're both a history and Harry Potter fan you can get Harry Potter: A History of Magic through Book Depository with free shipping and Amazon. Let me know what you though of it afterwards!

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