Book Review: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (Original Screenplay)

“See, they’re currently in alien terrain, surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet. Humans.”

Written by J.K. Rowling and a spin-off of her Harry Potter franchise, this beautiful hardcover edition captures Rowling’s screenwriting debut. Set in 1926 New York, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them follows ex-Hogwarts student Newt Scamander who travels to the city as part of a global study of fantastic beasts. But when he gets caught up in a conflict of a group of extremist No-Majs and a mystical act of destruction, some of the magical creatures in his case are accidentally released. With the help of a No-Maj named Jacob and two members of MACUSA (the American equivalent to the Ministry of Magic), he must find all of his creatures before they are blamed for the mysterious deaths that are adding up, causing magic and non-magic folk alike to panic.

Rating:

I had seen the film before reading this screenplay, so I knew exactly what to expect in terms of story, but it is still a beautiful hardcover edition to own, nonetheless.

It was a sad time when the Harry Potter films came to an end, but this prequel spin-off is a satisfying substitute, as Rowling expands the world of Harry and Hogwarts into the bigger world, taking us back to a time when it all began for some of the older characters we know from her books.

Not only does Rowling take the time to craft a simple and charming tale of Newt searching the streets for his lost beasts, but she also combines this with a deep, magical context of a franchise we fell in love with many years ago, one that we had to sadly come to terms with ending, as she welcomes the British wizarding world into America to begin a whole new adventure.

We have two stories in one. The first introduces us to the new leader of this franchise, Newt, and his love of fantastical creatures, setting this franchise up on its own with a fun adventure and intensely likeable characters, whilst the latter sets up the bigger picture, opening up a story that we’ve briefly read about in the Harry Potter books: the days of Grindelwald and a young Dumbledore.

The combination of having these nostalgic references to the past (which is actually 80 years in the future) and all of these new characters to get to know is balanced really well. With many comments about Hogwarts, Dumbledore, and quidditch, there’s enough reflection on the original series to fill fans of Harry Potter with comfort (because we all miss the original series deeply!) but there are also many new concepts that leave so much more to be explored.

With two more films announced for the future, as well, this new franchise promises to expand on some of the history that Rowling touched on in her original books, linking closely to the original stories and characters whilst also allowing us to see a side of the magical world outside of Hogwarts that Rowling was limited to before.

I only wish J.K. Rowling had written this trilogy of films as books first, not as a screenplay, so that she could have detailed all of these new characters and their backgrounds in full. But saying that, she does an exceptional job of crafting so much story, context, and characters (a few of whom we knew a little about already) that it works incredibly well at it is.

Ending the film on a very intriguing cliffhanger, I certainly can’t wait to see how the story will progress and for the conflict between Grindelwald and Dumbledore to take centre stage.

This book is a special hardcover edition of the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film, which you can watch the trailer for below:

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