Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling, Newt Scamander
Published by Scholastic Press on March 1, 2001
Series: Hogwarts Library #1
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Magic, Young Adult
Length: 42 pages Source: Gift from Family
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A copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them resides on almost every wizarding household in the country. Now, for a limited period only, Muggles too have the chance to discover where the Quintaped lives, what the Puffskein eats, and why it is best not to leave milk out for a Knarl.
Full disclosure: I’ve never been crazy about the book version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
I’m talking the original version, the wee little paperback published to support Comic Relief back in 2001. Although if I’m being completely honest, I also think that the published scripts from the films are a bit of a money grab. But they’re selling and people like them, so what do I know?
This little book is the first one in the Hogwarts Library series, a little sub-series of companion books to Harry Potter to raise money (well, except for Tales of Beedle the Bard) for charity. This was before Lumos, and I completely support Rowling using these books to raise money for a cause. I’m still waiting for Hogwarts: A History, but with Pottermore and the Pottermore Presents series, I’m fairly certain that the Hogwarts Library series is done. I bought them as a kid because I was insanely into the Harry Potter universe. I still love Harry Potter, but I can’t qualify myself with some of the more passionate fans. I’m here for the original series, y’all, and everything since has been (at best) fun and (at worst) infuriating.
So I’ll be honest. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is boring. Reading this, I was BOREDBOREDBORED. It’s a lexicon of magical creatures, and it reads like a textbook. For the most part it’s dry and uninteresting. They’ve even including Ron and Harry’s margin notes which, sadly, fail to add much to the book.
Some stuff I noticed in reading this for the first time since the Fantastic Beasts films. They’ve completely thrown out the “About the Author” information on Newt Scamander. I like Newt in the films a lot (after Crimes of Grindelwald Eddie Redmayne is the only thing holding these together for me) but the character we got has very little in common with the man Rowling describes in this section. Things like this are what makes the extended Potterverse so infuriating to me – Harry Potter fans are really intense. I’m a bit of a canonical purist, so whatever came first is what I go with. If an interview or Pottermore refutes something written in the original series, I side with the series. If the movies create something that isn’t in the book, the book was right because it came first.
UGH. I don’t talk Harry Potter much anymore because people throw Pottermore at me like their Harry Potter bible and just… .. hey y’all, did you also read the books? *grumblegrumblegrumble*. I love the original series but I have THOUGHTS and FEELINGS about things that have come since.
This is a book review not a rant fest.
So Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is generally tedious and only vaguely informative. If you’re interested in the magical creatures used in the Harry Potter series, there are more interesting companion books (I love The Sorcerer’s Companion). The only things you’ll find in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that aren’t available in other books are the creatures Rowling invented herself. If you remember some of the reeeeeally early controversy about the Harry Potter series (you know, other than the book burnings) you’ll know there aren’t very many original creations. BUT. Of these, my favorite is the Puffskein, and I think that’s the most interesting entry in the entire book. The Puffskein is a fluffy wizard pet with a long tongue that likes cuddling and eating boogers while you sleep. I dunno, I just think it’s funny.
This book only took me 45 minutes to read, so if you’re a Harry Potter fan, it won’t take long to read and it’s a fun addition to your collection. Especially the new boxed edition? They’re gorgeous and I’ve been sorely tempted to update my Hogwarts Library to them… but I have the first American Editions and there’s some nostalgia involved… so….
Fans of the new films may get a kick out of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as well.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them stays on the shelf.
Even though I don’t like this book. Even though I rarely re-read it. I’m keeping it for nostalgia, and because honestly, it’s a 74 page paperback? It takes up zero room on my shelves. This book is one of the rare exceptions where I don’t like the book, but I’ll keep it.