Harry Potter: A History of Magic is the official book of the exhibition, a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between Bloomsbury, J.K. Rowling and the brilliant curators of the British Library. It promises to take readers on a fascinating journey through the subjects studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – from Alchemy and Potions classes through to Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures. Each chapter showcases a treasure trove of artefacts from the British Library and other collections around the world, beside exclusive manuscripts, sketches and illustrations from the Harry Potter archive. There’s also a specially commissioned essay for each subject area by an expert, writer or cultural commentator, inspired by the contents of the exhibition – absorbing, insightful and unexpected contributions from Steve Backshall, the Reverend Richard Coles, Owen Davies, Julia Eccleshare, Roger Highfield, Steve Kloves, Lucy Mangan, Anna Pavord and Tim Peake, who offer a personal perspective on their magical theme. Readers will be able to pore over ancient spell books, amazing illuminated scrolls that reveal the secret of the Elixir of Life, vials of dragon’s blood, mandrake roots, painted centaurs and a genuine witch’s broomstick, in a book that shows J.K. Rowling’s magical inventions alongside their cultural and historical forebears. This is the ultimate gift for Harry Potter fans, curious minds, big imaginations, bibliophiles and readers around the world who missed out on the chance to see the exhibition in person.
I listened to the audiobook this week and went to the exhibit at the New York Historical Society today.
Photos are not allowed at the exhibit so I do want to buy the book eventually. Maybe with some Christmas money. It was nice though to put an image to all the descriptions made in the audiobook.
I love Natalie Dormer and she did a fantastic job of narrating. There were many interviews with the curators of the British Library and the NY Historical Society, the narrators of the UK and US editions of HP (Stephen Fry and Jim Dale, respectively), as well as some clips from the HP audiobooks and Fantastic Beasts (narrated by Eddie Redmayne), and interviews with artist Jim Kay.
I realized I like Jim Dale’s narration more than Stephen Fry’s. I think Jim did more voices and it was easier to distinguish which character was speaking. I also loved his little tidbits about how he came up with some voices.
One of the curators of the British Library, Julian Harrison, has thee softest voice I have ever heard. Sometime I had to increase the volume to hear him. And once I did fall asleep on the bus listening to his voice. I swear it is like melted butter.
The chapters are broken up into the subjects from Hogwarts: Charms, Potions and Alchemy, Divination, Astronomy, Care of Magical Creatures, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Herbology. The subjects go into the history of magical elements, and also give insight into Rowling’s writing process, Jim Kay’s process for drawing scenes for the illustrated edition, and Dale’s and Fry’s ideas about narrating the scenes for the audiobooks.
I loved what I learned from this audiobook. It’s amazing how these ancient ideas and beliefs about magic are world wide. Every part of the world has their own folklore but the ideas and symbolisms are so similar to each other.
They also spoke about the origins of the images we associate with witches. Such as cauldrons and broomsticks. The broomstick has a feminist origin. A woman is owning her power by taking an domestic item and using it for her power.
The word Abracadabra was believed to cure malaria.
I could keep going but there are so many that are fascinating! I bookmarked many parts to remember what I learned. I feel like going on Jeopardy! now.
It was just so enchanting that it took 3 hours to get through the exhibit today because I just had to study everything there.
I found that listening the audiobook before seeing the exhibit was very beneficial. I felt I was more prepared to know the more detailed stories behind the items I was studying. The exhibit is like the Cliff’s Notes of the audiobook.
If you have any interest in history, magic, and/or Harry Potter, this book is for you.
5 out of 5 Broomsticks