Yeah, the title here is completely misleading. These aren’t short stories- like I hoped- but a set of character notes on a couple of the characters, namely Proffessor McGonagall and Professor Lupin- detailing their biographies, their parents and their careers, plus some info on Trelawny and some guy called Kettleburn who I don’t think was more than a footnote in the series.
Whether this book will be of any interest of you depends on whether you’re one of the fans who wants to know every last detail of the series- and if you are that much of a die hard fan you’ve probably read most of the material on pottermore, but there are apparently some exclusives so I guess there’s reason to justify shelling out.
There are some interesting things here. It had a detailed spell for how to become an Animagus, which was pretty creative and I liked the fact that Professor McGonagall chose to keep her second name. With how extremely conservative the Wizard world appears to be, with how quick women seem to be to give up their careers to start a family in their early twenties -all of them- (goddamnit, what’s wrong with having a little life experience before marrying? And couldn’t someone set up a port key to a wizard primary school- doesn’t that might be practical? And why is it that even though you get taught to do cool stuff like shooting fireballs from your wand and teleport you will still most likely get stuck in a tedious office job? Damnit, this is like an anime where life ends after High School), it was nice that McGonagall provided an alternate point of view to that. It also kind of humanises her and explains why a fully grow woman would want to spend all her life living on a school ground and seemingly have no life outside teaching.
Likewise, the section on Lupin was interesting- and it would have been even more interesting if it had been made into a short story. The details about how their parents met, however, I couldn’t have cared less about.
But in my mind, it goes into ‘goddamnit, walk away Rowling, let me figure it out on my own’ territory when it blatantly explains McGonagall’s relationship with Harry. I mean, we can infer why Harry and the Proffessor got on so well from the text- and hearing that there had to be a ‘deeper reason’ for her affinity with him kind of took a little away from me.
The question remains, that with JK Rowling telling you every minute motivation, every little and spelling out all the information, telling you the definitive interpretation of a scene or character’s motivations, when does the work of a writer pass from author to reader? Does death of the author mean nothing? Is show don’t tell become relevant when we can’t come to our own conclusions about anything when we’re getting spoonfed everything? Half the fun is drawing your own conclusions through the characters actions, and discussing your conclusions with fans- and often the fan interpretations can be even more intriguing than what the author’s come up with.
As a result, having everything told to you definitively takes a lot away from ones own reading experience. It’s why I typically try and keep away from Pottermore, though with everything JK says splashed all over the internet as if its the new gospel, the task becomes difficult.
For my own part, as much as I enjoyed the Harry Potter series, and as much as I genuinely think JK Rowling seems like a wonderful person, I have to agree with my friends assessment of her when we were going to a live screening of The Room (the epitomy of cinematic achievement)
‘JK Rowling, I love her, I really do, she seems like a terrific woman, I just think she should let Harry Potter go.’
VERDICT: Make no mistake, there are no short stories in this collection, only character notes. Some of them are interesting, some not so much, and most of them are available for free on Pottermore, so I would only recommend this to the most die hard of fans who crave every last nugget of information on this world.
RATING: 2 plees from Elsa to ‘Let It Go’ out of 5