📚 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (J.K. Rowling)

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Description⎮Reviewed Mar. 2017

Narrator: Eddie Redmayne
Length: 1h 40m
Publisher: Pottermore from J.K. Rowling⎮2017

4.5★ Audiobook You know how eating something sweet is a delightful but short-lived treat for your tastebuds? Listening to the audiobook of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a similarly delightful but short-lived treat for my ears.

After seeing that it was only one hour and 40 minutes long, I almost didn’t buy it, especially because I read the original Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  when it was first published in 2001. But the temptation of having Eddie Redmayne read to me for a period of time (no matter how short) was too much to bear. I gave in, paid the $10 and immediately thanked myself after pressing play.

Another contributing factor in my decision to purchase this audiobook was my new-found love for the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  film, starring Eddie Redmayne. Not to go off on a tangent, but I actually think I enjoyed that film more than all of the other Harry Potter movies. Everything in it was new to me because it wasn’t based on a pre-existing novel, unlike the Harry Potter movies. There is a screenplay of the movie available for purchase, with the same title and written by J.K. Rowling, but it isn’t yet available on audiobook (*fingers crossed*).

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is formatted as a Hogwarts textbook. Hogwarts is the wizarding school Harry Potter attends in Rowling’s seven Harry Potter novels. It alphabetically lists magical creatures and gives a brief description of each of them. In that respect, it wasn’t very different from the originally published version. New to this edition, was an extended forward and more in-depth background information about wizarding legislation regarding magical creatures. I found those bits of history most interesting.

This newest addition was also updated with a few magical creatures who were not included in the original publication, but were featured in the recent film. It was particularly interesting to learn about the Horned Serpent, Thunderbird and Wampus, whom provide three of the four house names for Ilvermorny (the North American wizarding school). This information corresponds with fairly recent information given on Pottermore regarding Ilvermorny and the American wizarding community.

One of my favorite things about this book is the lengths to which Rowling went to preserve the reader’s suspension of disbelief. For a prime example, take a look at Audible’s page for this title. Newt Scamander is credited as the author (alongside Rowling). Within the book, there is an even more consistent effort to represent it as a work of the wizarding world. It is written as if the reader is part of that world and it’s assumed that we are all in on the secret. This is done with unwavering aplomb and gives the reader the wonderful feeling of “being in on” something very special (almost like an inside joke).

The only reason I’m not giving Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them five stars is because I greedily wish there had been more of it. The beast descriptions seemed a little on the short side, especially considering the entire audiobook only ran for 100 minutes. I’m still grateful that this edition was expanded from the original, but I’m a greedy and selfish Potterhead who always wants more from Rowling.

Narration review: Before I begin fangirling over Eddie Redmayne, let me mention that there were sound effects. So many sound effects. I laid down one night listening to this, closed my eyes and the material absolutely came alive inside my head. This type of audiobook is fuel for an active imagination. Coupled with the beasts’ vivid descriptions, the sound effects created a movie in my mind.

Because it is a work of fiction being masqueraded as a work of nonfiction, this type of book didn’t require Eddie to provide vocal distinction between characters. However, that’s not to say that there wasn’t a character present. The sheer brilliance of having Eddie Redmayne, who portrays Newt Scamander in the film, read out loud Newt’s best-selling work blows my mind. That’s some intricate mind manipulation right there. To feel the full impact of it, I suggest watching the movie before listening to this audiobook (to cement the Eddie = Newt association in your brain). And I definitely recommend listening to the audiobook. Although, it would be neat if you had the print version to follow along with while listening. Layers upon layers of awesomeness. ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.comAudible/Amazon, and The Book Depository (paperback)

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