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J.K. Rowling missed an opportunity with “Fantastic Beasts” books

Holly Viers • Nov 23, 2018 at 5:15 PM

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you probably already know about “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a prequel series made for the big screen.

Written by J.K. Rowling herself, the films are set many years before the Harry Potter series and follow Newt Scamander, a British wizard who studies magical creatures. The first film was released in 2016, and the second, “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” is in theaters now.

Among other things, the films delve into the backstory of Albus Dumbledore, who serves as a mentor to Harry Potter throughout the original series. The films also introduce Gellert Grindelwald, a powerful dark wizard often compared to Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort.

Since I’ve read all the Harry Potter books and seen all the original movies, I knew I had to check out “Fantastic Beasts.” In my opinion, the prequel series doesn’t come close to the quality of the original, but my real disappointment isn’t with the “Fantastic Beasts” movies. It’s with the books.

In case you haven’t seen them, Rowling has released two “books” to accompany each of the already-released “Fantastic Beasts” movies, but they aren’t really even books. They’re essentially the movies’ screenplays presented in book form.

I first discovered this disappointment in 2016 after seeing the first “Fantastic Beasts” movie in theaters. When I heard “through the grapevine” that Rowling had released a book to go along with the movie, I rushed to the bookstore and grabbed it off the shelf, expecting a typical novel.

Once I flipped through the pages and realized it was the screenplay, I couldn’t have been more frustrated. Maybe I should’ve done more research on the book before going to the bookstore, but I never expected to make such a disappointing discovery.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure many die-hard Harry Potter fans have bought the screenplays and read them cover to cover. But I don’t quite see the point in watching the movie, then reading the same thing in book form.

Now, if Rowling had written actual books based on the “Fantastic Beasts” movies, I would’ve been all for that, as I suspect many other fans would. Rowling did publish a “Fantastic Beasts” guidebook in 2001, but it also isn’t a traditional book, and it doesn’t cover the wide breadth that the films are expected to cover.

Knowing a little about Rowling’s writing process, I’m almost certain she had enough material to write traditional novels to go with her “Fantastic Beasts” movies. I can’t guess at her reasons for not writing them, but I will say I believe she missed a great opportunity to reenergize her fan base.

Do you think Rowling should write actual books for “Fantastic Beasts,” or are you content with reading the screenplays? Email me your thoughts at hviers@timesnews.net.

Holly Viers is a general assignment reporter for the Kingsport Times News.

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