Book Review: Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists (Pottermore Presents #2)
By: J.K. Rowling
Published By: Pottermore Limited
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Page Count: 71
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Middle Grades/Young Adult - Fantasy
It only seems fitting that today, on the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (aka Philosopher's Stone), that I should review a book from the HP universe. I truly loved these additional glimpses into one of my favorite literary worlds and getting to spend more time with the characters who have had my heart for so long. I have tried not to give too many spoilers about the larger series in this review, but it would be difficult to discuss this work without mentioning the larger universe, so proceed with caution if you have not read all of the Harry Potter books.
This second edition of the Pottermore Presents series focuses on some of the darker sides of the magical world. Many of the characters in this volume where the ones so many readers loved to hate or those who may have been a bit misunderstood.
The first chapter focuses on Dolores Umbridge, the witch who makes me clench my teeth every time I see her name appear on the page. I never felt sorry for Dolores. She is perhaps one of the most evil characters in the series, in my humble opinion. Her selfishness and desire to climb the political ladder overshadow any generosity of spirit she may have once had. This woman is pure evil wrapped in pink and carrying a kitten. She is best described when Rowling remarks, "A love of all things saccharine often seems present where there is a lack of real warmth or charity" (Kindle Location 116). I also never stopped to consider that aside from Voldemort, Umbridge is the only person to leave a permanent scar upon Harry. This fact makes me loathe her all the more.
The second chapter revolves around the various Ministers for Magic. Many of these I had never heard of so I enjoyed learning more about the men and women who wielded authority over the magical community. One of my favorite aspects of this segment was learning more about the creation of Azkaban.
In the third chapter, readers get an intimate glimpse into the complexity of Horace Slughorn. In some ways, he is a villain, but his remorse overshadows his wrongdoing in giving Voldemort the dark knowledge he needed. I felt like Slughorn truly wanted to atone for his past mistakes, but I was often put off by his need to "collect" famous students. In some ways, he mirrors Dolores' need to be the center of attention. He ultimately earns his redemption in my eyes for his heroic role at the Battle of Hogwarts.
Chapter four focuses on Quirinius Quirrell, who is infamous for his role in the first novel. Aside from his wonderings throughout Europe and an alleged run in with a vampire, I knew little of Quirrell beyond what was explained in the novel. It was interesting to learn more about this man and how he could have become a pawn. I also felt slightly bad for him when I read about the effects - both physical and emotional - that he suffered due to his ordeal.
Lastly, the final chapter gives Peeves, the poltergeist, his moment in the limelight. I was so disappointed that Peeves never managed to make it into the films. I've always wondered why his character was cut when he was such an interesting figure throughout the novels. I found it amusing that J.K. Rowling chose to name him Peeves as he annoyed all the Hogwarts caretakers much like a pet peeve would annoy most of us. His annoying antics never ceased to make me chuckle even when I cringed at his appearance at the most inopportune of times. He is considered to be "the most notorious and troublesome poltergeist in British history" (Kindle Location 529). That is quite a feat considering the length of British history.
One Last Gripe: I would have liked to learn more about some of the Death Eaters in this volume.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The Slughorn chapter
First Sentence: Dolores Umbridge may have looked like an iced cupcake, but she was anything but sweet.
Favorite Character: Slughorn
Least Favorite Character: Umbridge
Pottermore Presents is a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing: short reads originally featured on pottermore.com with some exclusive new additions. These eBooks, with writing curated by Pottermore, will take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters’ lives and surprises from the wizarding world.
These stories of power, politics and pesky poltergeists give you a glimpse into the darker side of the wizarding world, revealing the ruthless roots of Professor Umbridge, the lowdown on the Ministers for Magic and the history of the wizarding prison Azkaban. You will also delve deeper into Horace Slughorn’s early years as Potions master at Hogwarts - and his acquaintance with one Tom Marvolo Riddle.