Pottermore Presents: Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies, J.K. Rowling: Book Review

short stories from hogwarts of heroism hardship hobbies jk rowling book reviewPottermore Limited/ Carl Court
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies Book Cover Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies
Pottermore Presents
J.K. Rowling
Young Adult, Fantasy
Pottermore Limited
September 6, 2016

‘Minerva was the Roman goddess of warriors and wisdom. William McGonagall is celebrated as the worst poet in British history. There was something irresistible to me about his name, and the idea that such a brilliant woman might be a distant relative of the buffoonish McGonagall.’ – J.K. Rowling

Pottermore Presents is a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing from the Pottermore archives: short reads originally featured on pottermore.com with some exclusive new additions. These eBooks, with writing curated by Pottermore, will take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters’ lives and surprises from the wizarding world.

These stories of heroism, hardship and dangerous hobbies profile two of the Harry Potter stories’ most courageous and iconic characters: Minerva McGonagall and Remus Lupin. J.K. Rowling also gives us a peek behind the closed curtains of Sybill Trelawney’s life, and you’ll encounter the reckless, magical-beast-loving Silvanus Kettleburn along the way.

Harry Potter fans, this is the book you’ve been waiting for! If you want to experience the magic and wonder of Harry Potter while learning more about a few of the well-loved characters in the series, this is the book for you. Seriously, it’s amazing. J.K. Rowling really surprised me with this one.

In my previous review on the Pottermore Presents series, I explored the world of Politics, Power and Pesky Poltergeists, and while it provided a lot of new information, it felt like something was missing. The magic was there, but it felt incomplete. Not everything was answered, and some entries felt rather short. While I enjoyed Politics, Power and Pesky Poltergeists, I longed for more. I wanted to know about the characters that we see all time; the characters that we have grown to love. In this respect, Short Stories from Hogwarts on Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies is a wonderful addition to the Harry Potter family. I absolutely loved this e-book and everything about it.

Heroism Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies jk rowling book review

More than half of this e-book provides details on the lives of Remus Lupin and Minerva McGonagall. If that’s not exciting; I don’t know what is. What Harry Potter fan doesn’t want to know more about two of the more influential characters in the series? Lupin was a great mentor and friend to Harry on many occasions, while McGonagall was the head of Gryffindor house, who showed a great affection for Harry on her own terms. I found the sections on McGonagall and Lupin to be the best in the Pottermore Presents series so far. Just as the section on Horace Slughorn read like a short story, these do as well. Furthermore, the amount of information packed into the sections that detail their lives is astounding. If you ever wondered about Lupin’s childhood or the details surrounding his lycanthropy, look no further than this e-book. Similarly, if you ever wondered about McGonagall’s childhood or love life, this is the e-book for you. In addition to these wonderful sections, Rowling provides detailed information on animagi and werewolves. Want to know the steps involved in becoming an animagus? How about a detailed description on werewolves? If these are the things that you have been wondering about, this e-book provides all of the details!

This review contains spoilers and quotes from the book.

To begin, I was surprised to learn how many prominent witches and wizards were half-blood. While Rowling mentions that there are only a handful of pure-blood wizarding families left, I never realized just how small that number actually was. Out of the characters I have read about in the collection, only two of them (Horace Slughorn and Silvanus Kettleburn) were pure-blood. Interestingly enough, none of them (so far) have been muggle-born.

I also never realized just how difficult being in a half-blood or muggle family was until I read about McGonagall. While the International Statute of Secrecy is mentioned in the books, it never occurred to me how difficult it must be to cope without using magic as a witch or wizard, or that the Statute was that severe.

If we go off of what is mentioned in Short Stories of Hogwarts on Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies, falling in love with and marrying a muggle was very difficult for a witch or wizard for a number of reasons. In the chapter dedicated to McGonagall, the severity of the International Statute of Secrecy is explained through the marriage of her parents. Her mother (an extremely talented witch) and her father (a high-ranking muggle minister) were very much in love, but the Statute proved very difficult to deal with and put a large strain on their relationship. The family was forced to hide what they truly were. The muggle would have to hide the truth of magic in the family, while the witch or wizard would be forced to give up magic. The strain of the Statute would influence McGonagall’s own relationships as she got older.

Dougal did not know what she, Minerva truly was, any more than her father had known the truth about Isobel before they had married. Minerva had witnessed at close quarters the kind of marriage she might have if she wed Dougal. It would be the end of all her ambitions; it would mean a wand locked away, and children taught to lie, perhaps even to their own father.

Despite falling in love with a muggle, the young McGonagall could not bare to give up magic, like her mother before her, who suffered greatly. Through the Statute of Secrecy, Rowling gives more depth to the wizarding world; not everything is as easy as it seems, despite having magic readily available. Those who choose to marry into muggle families are forced to give up magic, lock up their wands and lie to their loved ones. As the conditions under which a witch or wizard is allowed to reveal their magical blood are rare, the topic brings up a number of questions. How much are witches and wizards allowed to reveal to their spouses? Why can’t a newly formed half-blood family move to a secluded area and continue to practice magic? How much are the parents of muggle-born witches and wizards permitted to know about their magical children? Although these questions are not answered within the e-book, they are interesting to think about and show just how difficult the decision to marry is within the wizarding world due to limitations on magic.

We learn a lot of small details about McGonagall’s life in Short Stories of Hogwarts on Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies. Not only is she an accomplished witch, but she worked for the Ministry of Magic before Hogwarts. Despite her difficult past in terms of relationships and heartbreak, she was, in fact, married. She learned under Dumbledore, and taught Lily and James Potter. She attended Hogwarts at the same time as Filius Flitwick and Pamona Sprout.

Have you ever wondered why she is so involved in Quidditch? How about her ability to transform into an animagus? Or how well she did in school? What about her relationship with Harry? Or her mysterious husband? All of these details and more are revealed in the collection of short stories about Minerva McGonagall.

Heroism Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies jk rowling book review

If McGonagall’s life was hard, it is nothing compared to the pain and loneliness that Remus Lupin experienced.

In the novels, Lupin is often seen as a figure of kindness and compassion. When we first see him, it is obvious that he experiences difficulties, as he often appears ill, but he remains a steady influence and source of comfort for Harry. Little do we know at first glance that Lupin has experienced incredible pain and loneliness.

In Short Stories of Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies, we learn that Lupin received the bite that turned him into a werewolf at barely five years old. As a half-blood, the Statute of Secrecy provided enough difficulties for the family, but with a young werewolf to take care of, things were even harder. Not only was the family doomed to move constantly in order to avoid suspicions, but they were unable to interact with others; especially the young Lupin. Lupin was confined to the home; he had no friends and was not allowed to attend school.

That is until Dumbledore showed up. He offered Lupin a place at Hogwarts, where he was given the chance to learn and make friends. Here, we learn about his relationship with James, Sirius and Peter Pettigrew. We learn about his achievements at school.

I never thought of the pain and loneliness that Lupin must have experienced after Voldermort rose to power. After Voldermort disappeared, Lupin lost everything; James and Lily died, Sirius was in Azkaban. He was doomed to make due with his condition, alone. Despite Lupin’s condition, I never thought of him as having a weakness. I never realized that he thought of himself as unclean and unworthy. Reading through Lupin’s story was heartbreaking, yet enlightening.

The death of James Potter, along with his wife Lily, at the hands of Lord Voldermort, was one of the most traumatic events of Remus’s already troubled life. His friends meant even more to him than other people, because he had long since accepted the fact that most people would treat him as untouchable, and that there could be no possibility of marrying and having children.

Lupin’s story is full of ups and downs. It is difficult to read, but raises a lot of questions about stigmas and society. Through Lupin, we learned that it is okay to be different. We learned that everyone has the right to live freely in society. We learned that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope.

Heroism Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies jk rowling book review

If you’re interested in what werewolves actually look like, or what the Wolfsbane potion does, this e-book gives you the details. How about more details about Lupin’s marriage to Tonks? Or their son Teddy? While Lupin’s death was a shock, wouldn’t it be nice to know how it happened?

Short Stories from Hogwarts on Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies provides all of this information and more. Seriously. I can’t even begin to tell you how much is packed into this small book. I haven’t even touched the surface of the contents of this book in this review. There are so many small details, and it’s absolutely wonderful.

Now if only we could learn more about Sirius, James, and Lily…

Heroism Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies jk rowling book review

Melissa Ratcliff
the authorMelissa Ratcliff
Senior Staff Writer
Reader, Writer & Translator. Cats, books and video games are my life.