Pottermore Presents: Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists, J.K. Rowling: Book Review

J.K. Rowling spills new details on a few important characters and places in her latest e-book collection.

short stories from hogwarts of power politics pesky poltergeists jk rowling book review
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists Book Cover Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists
Pottermore Presents
J.K. Rowling
Young Adult, Fantasy
Pottermore Limited
September 6, 2016
E-book
71

No Muggle Prime Minister has ever set foot in the Ministry of Magic, for reasons most succinctly summed up by ex-Minister Dugald McPhail (term of office 1858-1865): “their puir wee braines couldnae cope wi’ it.”’ – J.K. Rowling

Pottermore Presents is a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing: 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 power, politics and pesky poltergeists give you a glimpse into the darker side of the wizarding world, revealing the ruthless roots of Professor Umbridge, the lowdown on the Ministers for Magic and the history of the wizarding prison Azkaban. You will also delve deeper into Horace Slughorn’s early years as Potions master at Hogwarts - and his acquaintance with one Tom Marvolo Riddle.

After finishing college in May and reading over 50 books in my last year, I needed a break from reading. That isn’t to say that I dislike reading by any means, but at the time, I was too exhausted to read anything for enjoyment. With the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in July, along with the Pottermore Presents series being released in September, I knew that the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling would be the first thing on my list to revisit when I felt up to reading again.

My break from reading didn’t last long. I ended up reading all of the novels in the Harry Potter series again to finish off 2016. After taking a long break from the series, I dedicated a lot of my time to going through the novels in detail. There were questions that needed answers; answers that I hoped would be provided in either Cursed Child or the Pottermore Presents e-books. While Rowling does a great job providing answers for many of the main questions in her books, as someone who is genuinely curious about a lot of things, there were many details that I longed for regarding characters, classes, objects, and politics, among other things.

I still haven’t read Cursed Child, but the Pottermore Presents series provides answers to many of the questions that I had.

Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists is a rather short e-book that was released as a collection called Pottermore Presents, which features short stories that Rowling put on the Pottermore website. When Pottermore began, I was initially ecstatic; who wouldn’t want a chance to explore and learn more about the Harry Potter world? Over time, the appeal fell off, however, as content was slim and hard to find. This collection features many of the stories and descriptions that Rowling published on Pottermore, in an easily accessible e-book.

To begin, I love the cover and chapter images that are included in this e-book. It feels like it belongs in the Harry Potter world. It is simple, but has an element of fantasy to it; it could easily fit into the Hogwarts Library collection that features Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

This review contains spoilers from the book

Short Stories from Hogwarts on Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists is a wonderful addition to the Harry Potter world.

The content is organized in a way that flows well and features stories on Dolores Umbridge, Horace Slughorn, Quirinus Quirrell, Peeves the Poltergeist, the Ministry of Magic, Azkaban, and the subject of Potions. The title, however, is a little misleading. Many of the entries in the e-book feel like detailed descriptions rather than short stories. Despite this, it is clear that Rowling’s magic is present in the language and detail given to the book’s contents.

My favorite sections were the ones that might not seem that interesting to most readers. I particularly enjoyed the section dedicated to Horace Slughorn, who, I will admit, was not one of my favorite characters. I didn’t hate him, but he never really stood out to me as a character.

A good portion of this e-book is dedicated to Slughorn’s backstory; it feels the most like a short story, and can even be seen as a third-person retelling of the events that happen throughout the whole series from Slughorn’s point of view. Rowling goes into great detail about his life and expands upon his relationship with Voldermort.

pottermore presents power politics pesky poltergeists paperback paris

One of the reasons that I never paid much attention to Slughorn as a character is his personality, which comes off as compassionate, yet carefree, ashamed, and slightly obsessed with the brilliant and famous. Rowling’s section on Slughorn changed my opinion of him.

Slughorn’s behavior during the most dangerous night of his life reveals the worth of the man. Initially he appeared to have escaped the fight, having led the Slytherins out of the castle to safety. Once in Hogsmeade, however, he helped to rouse and mobilise the villagers, returning with Charlie Weasley at the head of reinforcements at a crucial point in the battle. What is more, he was one of the last three (with Minerva McGonagall and Kingsley Shacklebolt) to duel Voldermort before the latter’s final confrontation with Harry. Slughorn sought redemption in these selfless acts of courage, risking his life against his erstwhile pupil.

For most of his adult life, Slughorn worried about his early trust in Tom Riddle, before he became known as Voldermort. He spent some time in hiding, worried that he would be the next to face death at the hands of the dark and increasingly powerful wizard, all because of the information on Horcruxes that he provided to a young Riddle during his years at the school. His shame and guilt at having been an influence on Voldermort caused him much pain and distress, and Rowling sheds a new light on his character by providing more information about his presence during the war that takes place in Deathly Hallows.

Not only does Slughorn rally forces and join the fight against Voldermort, but he was a compassionate figure during the reign of Death Eaters at Hogwarts; he did what he could to protect students against harsh punishments.

When his bravery at the Battle of Hogwarts was publicised, his actions (along with those of Regulus Black, which gained attention in the aftermath of Voldermort’s demise) removed much of the stigma that had been attached to Slytherin house for hundreds of years past.

In this e-book, Rowling sheds a positive light on Slughorn and Slytherin house by providing readers with new facts and details that are absent from Deathly Hallows. Aspects such as these make the short story collection worthwhile for any fan of the series.

Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists also provides a number of interesting lists that include new, unheard of characters and factual information about important figures in the series.

Another section that I particularly enjoyed was on the Ministry of Magic.

pottermore presents power politics pesky poltergeists paperback paris

In this section, Rowling provides some background information on the Ministry, along with a list of all of the Ministers of Magic with brief biographies. I can’t tell you why, but this was so exciting for me! While this section does not answer some of the questions that have bothered me for a long time about magic in the wizarding world, particularly when it comes to other countries, it does a great job of detailing the achievements and progress of the Ministry of Magic as it stands in Britain.

The list includes both male and female Ministers, and details their achievements or shortcomings while they held the important post as the head of the wizarding world of Britain. It also includes some familiar surnames including Diggory, Parkinson and Lestrange!

In short, Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists is a treat to any Harry Potter fan, as it provides readers with a chance to learn new and unknown facts about the series. While I have mentioned a few of them here, there are plenty more that are both shocking and intriguing. Even though this e-book is not the Harry Potter encyclopedia that has been mentioned numerous times over the years, it is a great start that answers some of the questions that fans may have about the series. While this e-book will not answer every question, don’t let its length fool you; there is a lot to learn about in this collection!

Written by Melissa Ratcliff

Reader, Writer & Translator. Cats, books and video games are my life.