Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling
Last fall, The Chancellor and I saw the first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film in the new series, and we were underwhelmed. As much as I enjoyed the beasties, I didn’t find the story to be all that great or exciting. Plus, there were some troubling aspects that I thought were too mature for young kids and also possibly sneakily homophobic? Also, major ugh to Johnny Depp? On the bright side, Colin Farrell is positively a silver fox now, so enjoying that renaissance (I’m an early 2000s girl, sue me). And it’s delightful to know that my beloved Alison Sudol of A Fine Frenzy (seriously, her music is great—start with One Cell in the Sea) can act so well! That said, I was curious to see how Rowling had drawn from the source material of her original “textbook.” I was surprised by the bestiary that I got to read.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has a brief history of magical creatures, including the taxonomy. It was of great interest to learn that merpeople and centaurs wanted to be considered beasts, not humans, and that ghosts were concerned about being properly represented. It was also interesting to learn about Muggle-beast interaction, as you’d wonder if the species would collide in a way that would be harmful to Muggles. Most importantly, we get an A-Z list of “fantastic” beasts and how they engage with wizard and human species.
This book was a delight. I always enjoy fictional bestiaries (I believe my dad has a Star Wars universe book and a Tolkien book, if memory serves), and this one further fleshes out the magical word that Rowling created in her famous series. I would not be opposed to adventures of Newt Scamander in print form, though I won’t be following the film series.