23 Jan 2018

Fantastic Beasts by J.K.Rowling (Book Review)

It is a bit late in the day to be writing this review, given that the book was published over a decade ago. But seen as writing regular book reviews on my blog is one of the things I plan to do in 2018, I am going ahead with this anyway.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is written by J.K.Rowling, an author who needs no introduction unless you have been living in an alternate universe for the last 20 odd years. In that case, she is the author of the Harry Potter books and is single-handedly responsible for making reading fashionable again. Fantastic Beasts was written in aid of charity and is a spin-off from the Harry Potter series.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them written by J.K.Rowling has brought out the nerd in me. Like Hermione Grainger, I feel a compelling need to remember each fact and imbibe every details about these magical creatures.

You start reading the book knowing quite well it is a work of fiction. A couple of pages in and the boundaries between fiction and reality begin to get blurred. The little notes in the margin by the wizard editor, the foreword by the ‘author’ Newt Scamander and the commendation by Albus Dumbeldore all make you wonder if it is in fact, a non-fiction book.

You get to read how the book came about. You then get a short course in Magizoology (or the study of magical creatures) where you learn to differentiate between a beast and a being. And then you get the answer to the most important question of all – why do we non-magical folk, us Muggles, never notice any of these fantastic beasts in the world around us.

The book then goes about cataloguing an array of magical creatures, from A to Z. Each creature is given a name and a M.O.M (Ministry of Magic) classification. A description of its characteristics, appearance and habitat follows.

A mark of a good writer is to draw on the mundane and the routine, embellish it with imagination and present it in a different light. That’s what you get in this book. J.K.Rowling has drawn on popular myths and legends like sightings of the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti and explained them away with references to magical beasts. Dragons are afforded an elaborate description. The Chimaera, Unicorn, Centaur, Sphinx and Merpeople are described with suitable respect.

Not so the fairies, gnomes and pixies. I have a feeling J.K.Rowling is not particularly keen on these creatures given their less-than-glorious descriptions in Fantastic Beasts. The poor elf doesn’t even get a mention!

You read about Muggle-eating beasts and creatures used in potions. You learn about pets and pests. And then there are these tongue-in-cheek explanations, like how Billywigs are used in Australia to induce levitation and how human children get wrongly blamed for gardens vandalised by a Knarl.

The more I read Fantastic Beasts, the more I want to believe that these creatures do exist. Maybe they do, and it is only because of disillusionment and memory charms that Muggles like me cannot see them!

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