In preparation for the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the Harry Potter spinoff film which takes place in America, JK Rowling has been releasing tantalising information on the American magical community in her universe. The latest addition is the story of how Hogwarts’s American counterpart, Ilvermorny, was founded – and I just had to gush about it.
All the stories about the wizarding world that Rowling has gone into on Pottermore are worth reading, and some have been particularly good, such as the life stories of Remus Lupin and Dolores Umbridge, and the tale of Angus Buchanan, the rugby-playing Squib. But the story of Isolt Sayre and how she came to found Ilvermorny is the best yet. Like other material on Pottermore, it’s told in the manner of a historical account than a traditional short story from a character’s perspective, but Rowling is no Professor Binns. It manages to be a wonderful, exciting tale of adventure, values, family, and unconventional friendship, with characters just as real and compelling as those from the original books, and an ending that almost brought a tear to my eye. It links to the material that we’re more familiar with through the involvement of the Gaunt and Boot families, while refreshingly providing a more positive aspect of Salazar Slytherin’s legacy. And it’s given me my favourite word for the week: Pukwudgie.
Plus there’s the accompanying video, made in a similar style to the Tale of the Three Brothers sequence from Deathly Hallows Part 1 – I would love to see a full one done for the whole story. Rowling’s other works since Harry – The Casual Vacancy and the Cormoran Strike novels – are fine, but this latest piece shows how strong she still is when it comes to fantasy, and this universe in particular.
As well as that, you can now be sorted into an Ilvermorny house, which are named after magical beasts: Thunderbird, Horned Serpent, Wampus and Pukwudgie. I got Horned Serpent, which I was happy with as it seems to be the closest equivalent to Ravenclaw – though the qualities that define these houses are actually quite different to the Hogwarts ones. There’s certainly no obvious ‘magnet-for-evil’ house at Ilvermorny!