Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
So far, these three short stories are e-book exclusives ($2.99 each on Amazon).
The three short collections have a basic theme within the collection and add just a bit extra to the world of Harry Potter.
Individual Rating: 4/5
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies has four chapters with a total of 7 short works therein.
- “Minerva McGonagall” is a more extensive piece (compared to the rest within the series of short stories) and features her parentage, childhood, schooling, and placement at Hogwarts. Some detail going into Animagi’s, which leads into the next short. We also learn about her love life and marriage.
- “Animagi” goes into minor detail about what Animagi are and what restrictions there are to registering. It also details the (complicated) steps in becoming an Animagus and the misfortune of having to start over if you mess up.
- “Remus Lupin” is the second major piece in this set or stories (with McGonagall being the first). It depicts Remus’s childhood and how he became a werewolf, what his parents thought of his lycanthropy, and his acceptance to Hogwarts when Dumbledore offers a solution. It also details his first and second time in the Order of the Phoenix, his marriage to Tonks, and his worry about passing on lycanthropy to the child. We also revisit his death, which is hard for us as well as Rowling. Rowling discusses Remus’s metaphor to incurable (but manageable) diseases today, as well as his patronus and feelings towards wolves that we never get to see in the novels.
- “Werewolves” branches off of Lupin’s story and talks about their worldwide mythos. The history of werewolf registration and discrimination is discussed here, as well as the Ministry of Magic’s policies and how they have changed for werewolves over time.
- “Sybill Trelawney” has a very vague depiction of how she came to be at Hogwarts as well as her character in opposition to the traits of McGonagall. She does not spend much time with the other teachers, but is descended from a great prophetess, which she tends to use to her advantage. Rowling reflects on the origins of Trelawney’s name, as well as mentioning that she is a character who Rowling has not developed a full background for, unlike many of her other characters.
- “Naming Seers” briefly describes how wizarding families used to have their children named based on their future readings. If they will do great things, they must have a great name.
- “Silvanus Kettleburn” is a very short piece, but discusses his enthusiasm as the previous Care of Magical Creatures teacher before Hagrid, as well as his (extremely) minor involvement in the Wizarding War.
Individual Rating: 3/5
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists has five chapters with a total of nine short works therein.
- “Dolores Umbridge” gives some background to the character including her family, jobs, and interests. Rather than a story, it is more like a background profile (no dialogue or added story elements). The end of this part features commentary by J.K. Rowling and her inspirations for the character as well as name origins and meanings.
- “Ministers for Magic” is more of a timeline than a story, featuring the origins of the Ministry and dating all Ministers for Magic from the origin, their length in office, and the reasons for their falling out of office. These reasons add a small historical element to the events of the Wizarding World.
- “Azkaban” tells us the origins of the prison as well as the only times anyone has escaped. Rowling also shares her ideas about the prison and where the name came from.
- “Horace Slughorn” features the early life of Slughorn and how he was a teacher to Voldemort. Slughorn, at times, has felt guilty for teaching Voldemort how to make the Horcruxes, but still finds his pupil astounding. He also has interests in other students of merit, such as Harry and Neville. Rowling talks about the name origins and inspirations for the character.
- “Potions” briefly discusses some of the merits of using potions and that sometimes using a potion is the only way to accomplish a task, since there may not be a spell counterpart. Rowling highlights her inspiration and connection to potions in relation to doing chemistry in school.
- “Polyjuice Potion” is a specific potion that can change ones appearance depending on the potency. It is a potion that requires a lot of skill and hard-to-find ingredients. Rowling discusses how carefully thought out the specific ingredients are for the potion that relate to what the potion is meant to do.
- “Cauldrons” are a widely known and widely used item by many cultures, and it makes sense for witches and wizards to have cauldrons even at a portable level.
- “Quirinus Quirrel” was an interesting short highlighting a bit about his character and school life. Rowling shares thoughts about his name origins and how they relate to some of his more noticeable traits, such as fidgeting and stuttering.
- “Peeves the Poltergeist” highlights the history of Peeves and his haunting’s. It mentions the type of people he tends to enjoy being around, and his ghostly enemy, the Bloody Baron. The differences between poltergeists and ghosts is also discussed.
Individual Rating: 4/5
Hogwarts: An Incomplete Unreliable Guide has six chapters with 19 short works therein.
- “The Journey to Hogwarts: Platform 9 3/4” features the short stories “King’s Cross Station,” “Platform Nine and Three-Quarters,” and “The Hogwarts Express.” These short stories feature the history and contemporary means of traveling to Hogwarts. Rowling shares her thoughts and ideas for these things based on the real King’s Cross Station in London and where further inspirations came from.
- “The Sorting Hat” features the short stories “”The Sorting Hat” and “Hatstall.” It explains the origin and history of the Sorting Hat and the rare event of Hatstall, where the Sorting Hat may take an unusually long time to place someone in a house. We learn about some of the Hatstall students as well as Rowling’s thoughts and ideas for sorting before the Sorting Hat became the final way to sort students.
- “The Castle and Grounds” features the short stories “Hufflepuff Common Room,” “The Marauder’s Map,”and “The Great Lake.” Learning about the Hufflepuff common room was interesting. While it was never in the books, Rowling still knew behind the scenes just how her Hufflepuff’s get in and out of their common room. She also mentions the methods of entering the other three common rooms in comparison. Some history is added about the Marauder’s Map as well as some previous owners and contemporary uses. The Great Lake is a bit of a mystery, but Rowling has it developed for when she thought there would be more use of it in the novels, such as a magic gateway (I mean, how else did Durmstrang’s ship come out of the lake?)
- “Lessons at Hogwarts” has short stories that shed light on “Hogwarts School Subjects” and “Time-Turner[s].” Rowling gives more definitive information on the various school subjects that students can take based on what year they are in, as well as comparing Hogwarts subjects to Muggle school subjects. The time-turner information is interesting in that it shares the history, uses, and precautions of time-turners, and Rowling explains the eradication of time-turners to avoid plot implications in the novels.
- “Castle Residents” features the stories “Hogwarts Ghosts,” “Ghosts,” “The Ballad of Nearly Headless Nick,” “Hogwarts Portraits,” and “Sir Cadogan.” Rowling depicts the traits of specific ghosts who are permanent residents of Hogwarts in comparison to ghosts in general. The ballad is a song by Nearly Headless Nick that was removed from the final publication of the novels, but it is rather humorous if you can laugh with darker humor. Rowling explains how the portraits are crafted and how they work, not being actual people, merely imitated bits. Sir Cadogan is a knight in one of the more famous Hogwarts portraits and is given a more thorough background and history here.
- “Secrets of the Castle is the last chapter of this series of short stories and contains “Mirror or Erised,” “Pensieve,” “The Philosopher’s Stone,” “The Sword of Gryffendor,” and “The Chamber of Secrets.” Rowling goes into more detail into these magical objects and places, including origins and relation to real historical myth and legend. These were very interesting and well worth the read.
All in all, these stories are worth the read for any Harry Potter fan. They add just a bit more magic to the world that readers already know and love. Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies and Unreliable Guide are the best of the three, but Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists has its interesting merits as well. Despite not being actual stories with dialogue and new adventures for the characters we love, it was a fun intellectual read that I would go back to again, as well as hope for more from Rowling.