So this week is going to be quite different in that it is all going to be about Harry Potter and there are going to be a number of reviews, largely because the Pottermore Presents e-books were released today. I will do a post about each of the three books (which, as I joked to my mother, should be known as pulling a Pottermore, for reasons that will become clear later) and then an overall analysis of the implications of their existence on Friday. First up is Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroes, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies.
I’m going to refer to this book as Hogwarts Heroes from here on out, due to the overly wordy title and my inherent laziness. This book, like the other two, is divided into small sections that cover tentatively connected subjects. Hogwarts Heroes is, rather predictably, about some of our favourite background heroes (meaning teachers) from Hogwarts. Basically, it tells us a bit more about McGonagall, Lupin, Trelawney, and Kettleburn. The question is; how much of this was new content?
Before I get to that though, let’s take a moment to bask in the joys of the best part of Hogwarts Heroes; the cover. Yep, that’s easily the best part. Can you tell that this is a glowing review? Silhouetted shapes in front of an arched stain glass window and some really nice typography. I’m confident that some effort must have gone into the designing of this cover. I just wish the same could have been said about the rest of it.
The first section of Hogwarts Heroes covers Minerva McGonagall, telling you about things like her upbringing, her professional life, and her roles in both wars. It also seemed to go into greater depth about the process of becoming an animagus than previously released content – I read it and imagined Sirius Black impatiently waiting for a thunderstorm, after already having struggled with a torturous month of silence while holding a leaf in his mouth. And, when it came to new content, McGonagall’s section was relatively good, compared to certain other sections/books I may mention. Probably around two thirds was a carbon copy of content that can be found on Pottermore but I loved reading it then and would enjoy returning to read it again, for free, on Pottermore. The new third was mainly focused, as I mentioned previously, on the animagus process, with touches about McGonagall’s role in both wars. Sadly, this particular subject was not executed to the fullness that it could have been. The Second War section starts off by mentioning McGonagall’s reluctance to return as a spy for a Ministry she had no faith in during the Second War but the First War section makes no mention of her spying. It would have been such a badass piece of info (if the implication is correct) and they left it out!
The second section of Hogwarts Heroes covers the story of Remus Lupin, going over his family history, his schoolboy days, and his life as a werewolf. He’s one of my favourite characters and I really enjoyed reading it. On Pottermore. Several years ago. If there was new content in this section, I didn’t find it.
I will admit that I initially thought the section on Trelawney was new and I got excited. After a check through Pottermore, which took longer than it should because of the site’s utter lack of search function, I soon realised that it was not new. There was no content there that couldn’t be found on Pottermore proper. Interesting though it was, the mysteries of Sybil Trelawney had already been revealed several years earlier.
The redemption of Hogwarts Heroes came in the form of the one-arm/half-legged Professor Kettleburn. His section WAS new content. And quite funny stuff too – all chucking Flobberworms at death eaters and getting his prosthetics burned off with disturbing regularity because of a love for dragons. You can now understand why Hagrid was considered a suitable replacement as they were both quite clearly cut from the same cloth.
And that was the end. As can probably be gathered, if the first thing I choose to comment on is the cover then it’s clear that Hogwarts Heroes did not impress. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the writing – it emulates Rowling’s style well and I would have appreciated the stories… if I hadn’t been able to find most of them for free on Pottermore. Including various interruptions and time taken checking content on Pottermore/writing notes, I read Pottermore Presents’ Hogwarts Heroes in (at best) forty five minutes. I’d say that maybe 15 or 20% is new content while the rest is blatantly ripped off the site proper. All in all, I’m glad I got it at the pre-order price of £1.99 rather than the usual £3.99 because even the lower price is a bit of a rip off.
The other posts –