J K Rowling - Shastrix Books

J K Rowling

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The Crimes of Grindlewald

The Crimes of Grindlewald

J K Rowling

23rd June 2019

This is the script of the film - which I got a while before actually seeing the movie and kept on the shelf until I’d seen it.

I actually found the script to be a better way to consume this story than the film. Somehow the plot comes out more and the spectacle in my imagination fits to that, rather than distracting from it and taking over.

The characters come across really well, and Rowling’s notes lend a little more of the original Harry Potter flavour to the writing.

Scripts aren’t to everyone’s taste, but I certainly enjoyed consuming the story in this format and fully intend to continue with the rest of the series in this medium.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

J K Rowling

18th March 2017

This is the screenplay (i.e. the script) to the 2016 film of the same name - written by J K Rowling and taking place some 60 years before the first Harry Potter novel.

In the script we meet Newt Scamander, magizoologost, as he arrives in New York and becomes embroiled accidentally in a surprisingly major set of events.

The text serves well, having seen the film, of reminding me what I saw and helping to solidify some of the moments that might otherwise have drifted out of my mind. It didn't take long to read through, but then the film is only a couple of hours long and I read faster than actors speak.

The illustrations are also beautiful, representing many of the magical creatures that appear through a simple art form that I don't have the words to accurately describe. They really leap off the page and make an impression every time they appear.

A happy bonus to my bookcase, and a quick reminder of ever I want it of an enjoyable evening with friends at the cinema. I'm sure I will read it again as the rest of the series appears in film, as a convenient reminder of the story so far.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

J K Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany

19th August 2016

Who would have thought there would be a sequel? Who would have thought it could be as exciting again? I was slightly dubious when I heard there would be a play, but my interest has been slowly piqued by the marketing department’s drip feeding of information - but nothing could have prepared me for reading this, the rehearsal script for the play (the actual play may include tweaks to the text made during rehearsals and previews - but I haven’t managed to see it yet).

Fortunately, I’ve read a number of scripts before (I own scripts from Star Trek and Doctor Who - and we were taught from scripts at school by the likes of Arthur Miller and William Shakespeare), so wasn’t phased by the difference in format. In fact, I quite like the format of a script, as it gives the right amount of description to force my brain to put in some work in the imagination department, unlike in a novel where it thinks someone else has done the work and I don’t need to visualise it. There were a few places where I found it awkward though, such as scene breaks that return to the same scene afterward (like a TV show ad break) or over use of one particular uncommon word in the stage directions.

I felt that the opening was fairly predictable, and was lulled into thinking it would continue that way, but then was hit by several things, before the plot twisted off in directions I never would have guessed. It addresses a number of elements from the books that hadn't even occurred to me as needing following up on, and certainly adds a great new dynamic particularly to the characters' relationships as we see them in new situations.

I was thoroughly satisfied with this book, despite it being fairly quick to read (I read the first half twice before allowing myself to progress, which not only dragged out the experience but helped me take it all in). I look forward to one day being able to see it performed on the stage.

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

J K Rowling

25th March 2016

The time has come in my latest Harry Potter re-read to revisit my favourite of the series (and I know that's an unpopular opinion). I started this read through trying to be in sync with Pottermore releasing bonus material for each book, but since I read Goblet of Fire last the format of the website has completely changed and so I just took the opportunity to read the story again and prepare myself mentally for the appearance of a new story (in script and stage form) this summer.

Why do I like this book over the others? For many reasons. This is a tale of the Harry at a key age - he's still a child, but now he is becoming an adult. It's the point at which he turns from being a child drawn into unusual situations into a young man taking control of his life and the direction it takes. He becomes stronger and starts forming new relationships - and the secondary cast start to become more prominent. Yet it remains a story about school life, before the story is absorbed into the epic events of the last two books of Harry's story, and so still has that touch of the original structure.

One of the criticisms that this book often draws is about Harry's moodiness and how he's become a stroppy teen. I don't see this as anything as a mis-reading of the story, instead (and I'll avoid spoilers) stemming from an important plot point that is integral to not only the story of this novel but also the rest of the series.

On this reading, I really enjoyed a couple of moments which I hadn't noticed before, both early on, that seem like throwaway comments, but which with the knowledge I now have from later turn into interesting hints of foreshadowing. It's also the point in the series from which I feel slightly less familiar with the text (having naturally read the earlier books more frequently - at least once each time a new on was published) and so I enjoyed rediscovering some of the story.

Still my favourite of the books, and one that I am sure I will revisit again and again and again.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

J K Rowling

11th January 2015

I suspect this was around my eighth reading of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I began re-reading the series again as J K Rowling began to release additional content on the Pottermore website - however this time I've been quite late getting there for the content for this book.

While I, of course, enjoyed revisiting Harry's world again and spending time in the company of him and his friends at Hogwarts, this is, I feel, still one of the weaker half of the series. Personally I think it picks up a lot from book five, though many seem to disagree. This book does feel overly long, and there is a lot to happen before anything really meaty comes along.

That said, I also noticed this time around that there's a lot of foreshadowing going on that I've not spotted before. Partiularly in the early chapters, Rowling gives a lot of hints of things to come, and even at the end there are little hints that I've not spotted before, such as references to characters we don't really know about until the next book. This sort of thing is one of the reasons I find the Harry Potter series so magical and enjoy returning again and again.

A vital turning point for the series, and one that I have enjoyed, particularly the second half. If anyone hasn't yet read Harry Potter then I certainly recommend it.

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The Silkworm

The Silkworm

Robert Galbraith & J K Rowling

28th June 2014

The second book in the Cormoran Strike series follows the private detective as he investigates a case that bears more than a passing resemblance to that covered in the previous novel. He’s hired to find a woman’s missing husband, and author who’s just delivered a surprisingly inflammatory novel.

It’s always interesting when authors write about the book world, as they can give an insight into their industry, but also tend to exaggerate and use the opportunity to make fun of themselves - to an extent, that is the case here, as the characters are larger than life and each have some extreme quirks, though those all play important parts in the plot too.

Like the first novel, Strike’s assistant Robin feel like she’s sidelined and I would have much preferred for her to serve as the main character - although clearly a strong character when she is in the action spotlight, there’s more a focus here on her personal life rather than work, and I felt she could have been utilised better to advance the central plot line.

There’s a quantity of gore and explicitness that matches the author’s previous adults works - it feels less now that it’s done just because it’s now permitted after years of writing for children, and more that it really is the author’s preferred style. There are reminders of the children’s novels though - the relationships between the characters feel familiar and are presented in a similar way to those in the Harry Potter series.

Overall though I found it an enjoyable read, despite the occasional graphic scenes, lighter than a lot of crime series while remaining serious, and I see no reason to think I won’t continue reading about these characters for a lot more books.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

J K Rowling

21st September 2013

That third Harry Potter novel is one that I must have read a dozen times, and until now, rereading it with the Pottermore website alongside, I've considered it one of my least favourite entries in the series.

The story covers Harry's third year at Hogwarts, which is overshadowed by the escape of Sirius Black from the wizard prison, and attempts to keep the school, and particularly Harry, safe. It's probably the first entry in the series that works to set things up properly for later books, introducing a number of vital characters and plot devices.

The plot of this entry works well, and is significantly different from the first two books, which is probably what put me off a little when I first read it. There's a lot to learn and the characters actually start to develop. My memory was of quite a slow plot and an overly long last few chapters, but that's not what I found in this reading, with the climax actually taking up a much smaller page count than expected.

So on this reading, punctuated by Pottermore moments between each chapter, I've enjoyed it more than previously, but it's still not my favourite book in the series.

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Other reviewed books

The Cuckoo's Calling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The Casual Vacancy
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Unreviewed books

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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