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Book Review: ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

What it is: an original new story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Play directed by: Jack Thorne

Review:

Some of my happiest childhood memories involve midnight releases of the Harry Potter books. My brothers, parents and I would all go to the book store together and, God bless them, my parents would have to buy four copies of every book since we refused to share. I dressed up as Hermione, Tonks, and Bellatrix for Halloween, a book release, and a movie premiere respectively (the latter earned me concerned looks from theater-goers). At one point, I developed a large, irrational crush on Harry. No, not Daniel Radcliffe. Book Harry. As I type this, I’m rocking a tank top with the Dark Mark on it. I grew up with J.K.Rowling and her beautiful, rich world. Honestly, those books helped shape the person I am today. So, yes, I’m a gigantic Harry Potter fan.

When I heard that there was a new play being written with a whole new story, I was apprehensive. “Harry’s story ended,” I thought, bitterly. “And who tf is Jack Thorne?!”
I felt weirdly protective of Harry Potter, as I’m sure a lot of fans did upon first hearing the news. However, when it was announced that the script would be released, I knew I’d get my grubby hands on it immediately like some sort of crazy person. I missed the excitement and adrenaline rush of starting a new book about the adventures of the Boy Who Lived.

Pardon my nostalgia, but that’s exactly what Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is: a book of memories. Old characters pop up in new and interesting ways, while new characters are introduced and immediately feel like old pals. However, what’s really awesome is that the book (or script, whatever you’d like to call it) doesn’t repeat roles we’ve seen before. Albus isn’t a carbon copy of Harry and Scorpius is nothing like Draco. Both young men have their own voices and we’re reminded of that as the story unfolds.

So! Spoiler free synopsis if you just read the names “Albus” and “Scorpius” and have no idea who I’m talking about. This tale, while inclusive of other plot points, mostly focuses on Albus Potter (Harry’s son) and his struggle to become his own man separate from his father. Scorpius (Draco’s son) is dealing with a similar predicament and the two develop an unexpected friendship. There’s a new threat to the wizarding world and all of the characters band together to defeat it.

One of the most interesting themes of the story is definitely “family”. We see Harry at his most vulnerable, trying desperately to connect with his son, a task that proves almost as difficult as beating Voldemort. Dumbledore once said, “Youth can not know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty if they forget what it is to be young.” Harry and Albus don’t understand each other and, because of my love for Harry, I found myself getting frustrated with his wayward son often.

JUST GIVE HIM A BREAK, ALBUS, GAHD.

While Harry and Albus’s relationship is strained, others have only grown stronger in the past 19 years. Ron and Hermione made me say “relationship goals” out loud more than once. Let’s be honest, theirs is the most underrated love story of all time. When the two of them interact with Harry you’re reminded of the old days and all that the three of them have gone through. You feel like you’ve been friends with them your whole life, and some of us pretty much have.

Opinion: did someone slip Amortentia in my wine? Because I’m totally in love with this book. It’s fresh and new while also maintaining everything that drew fans to the series in the first place.
So, reader, if you’ve been on the fence about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, fear not: it is, dare I say it, magical.

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Is ‘Game of Thrones’ About to Reveal Lady Stoneheart?

[Warning: the following article is dark and full of spoilers!]

Lady Stoneheart may finally be introduced in Game of Thrones!

Showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have kept the character out of the series for three seasons now, perhaps because they deemed her too unrealistic for a show where dragons rule the skies and every woman has perfect boobs. But if this season has proven anything, it’s that any and all A Song of Ice and Fire story lines are fair game in the TV adaptation .

Lady Stoneheart, for those of you who don’t know, is a zombified version of Catelyn Stark.

The Freys threw Catelyn’s body in the river after murdering her during the Red Wedding, and in the novels, her corpse was found a couple days later by the Brotherhood Without Banners. Their leader, Beric Dondarrion, was able to resurrect Catelyn by trading his life for hers. However, the resurrection wasn’t perfect. Catelyn’s slashed throat and other wounds were only somewhat healed, leaving her disfigured and unable to speak.

She takes on the persona of Lady Stoneheart and gains control over the Brotherhood, using the group to exact revenge on those who have wronged her… especially the Lannisters and their collaborators.

There is no solid evidence to prove that Lady Stoneheart is in fact leading the Brotherhood in the television series (at least not yet), but if Game of Thrones is planning to go that route, then they’ve laid the foundation for it perfectly.

The audience was freshly reminded of Catelyn Stark and her death this season during one of Bran Stark’s visions, and Walder Frey mentioned her death while planning a coup.

The Brotherhood Without Banners is said to be wreaking havoc for the Freys, and with the group back in the series, it’s only a matter of time before we find out just who is leading them.

My money’s on the character who has the biggest beef against the Freys, Lady Stoneheart, but only time will tell!

Do you think Lady Stoneheart will appear in season 6? Let us know in the comments!

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First Look at the ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ Cast!

The official Harry Potter and the Cursed Child cast portraits were recently unveiled by Pottermore, and spoiler alert, they’re bloody brilliant.

Check out the magical photos below!

Jamie Parker as Harry Potter

Poppy Miller as Ginny Potter

Sam Clemmett as Albus Severus Potter

(Some of) the Potters!

Paul Thornley as Ron Weasley

Noma Dumezweni as Hermoine Granger

Cherrelle Skeete as Rose Granger-Weasley

The Weasleys!

Alex Price as Draco Malfoy

Anthony Boyle as Scorpius Malfoy

The Malfoys!

In addition to these glorious photos, Pottermore also released a short behind-the-scenes look at the photoshoot! 

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is an upcoming play written by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne. The production will be directed by John Tiffany and will include the musical stylings of Imogen Heap.

The story takes place many years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ended.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places. – Pottermore

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens at the Palace Theatre London in July 2016, with preview performances beginning June 7, 2016.

Are you impressed by the cast and costumes? Let us know in the comments!

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‘Game of Thrones’: Is Benjen Stark About to Return?

[Warning: the following article contains Game of Thrones season 6 spoilers]

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego Benjen Stark?

The First Ranger of the Night’s Watch and brother of Ned Stark was last seen way back in season 1 of Game of Thrones. He embarked on a ranging mission north of The Wall and hasn’t been seen since, though he has been mentioned several times since his disappearance.

During the season 5 finale, Olly was able to lure Jon Snow to his death with the promise of information concerning his uncle, and earlier in the current season, Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven witnessed a vision of young Benjen and his siblings playing in Winterfell’s courtyard.

Show runners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have purposely tried to keep Benjen fresh in fan’s minds, and now that Bran and Meera are alone, unarmed, and in desperate need of an ally north of The Wall, it might be time for the elusive character to finally reappear and save the day.

This theory is a bit of a stretch, but it’s not without evidence.

The initial trailer for season 6 includes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene where a man on horseback takes down what appears to be a Wight with a flaming weapon. This mystery man is likely saving Bran and Meera, as the setting of this scene perfectly matches the one shown in the preview for season 6 episode 6, where our young and vulnerable heroes struggle to escape a group of Wights.

Some may argue that this mystery man is Coldhands, a friendly Wight who saves Bran in the novels and brings him to the Three-Eyed Raven, but this is unlikely. Wights are vulnerable to fire, so it makes little sense for one to wield the dangerous element as a weapon.

There is also the possibility that this man is a Wildling, but this too is highly unlikely. All of the Wildlings north of The Wall were either killed and turned into Wights ( remember the battle of Hardhome?) or relocated south of The Wall. And even if there are a few stray Wildlings left, it wouldn’t make sense for this man to be one. Wildlings operate on foot, not on horseback, and this man appears to be dressed in black garb more typical of the brothers of the Night’s Watch than the Wildlings.

And there’s only one member of the Night’s Watch unaccounted for beyond The Wall: Benjen.

It’s possible that Benjen has been lurking in the shadows as part of a covert operation to take down the White Walkers. If this is true, then Benjen likely is the one responsible for burying a large stockade of Dragonglass (one of the only known weapons that can kill White Walkers) north of The Wall for the Night’s Watch to find.

After all, if anyone is well aware of the fact that Winter is coming, it’s a Stark.

The truth will (hopefully) be revealed next Sunday at 9 PM!

Do you think Benjen will return this season? Let us know in the comments!

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‘Game of Thrones’: Is Jon Snow Azor Ahai?

[Warning: this article contains Game of Thrones season 6 spoilers]

Jon Snow’s resurrection has brought new credence to the long-held theory that the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch is Azor Ahai reborn.

For those of you who have forgotten, Azor Ahai is a legendary and messianic figure in Asshai lore. It is said that thousands of years ago he defeated the Great Other (the god of darkness) with his great sword Lightbringer, which ushered in an era of light and peace. He is prophesied to return and save the world from the darkness once more.

There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him. – Melisandre, “A Clash of Kings”

We’ve garnered many clues as to who Azor Ahai may be from Melisandre, who has said that the hero will be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone. She believed Stannis Baratheon to be that hero (and tried her best to make it a reality), yet curiously enough, when she would ask the Lord of Light to show her a vision of Azor Ahai, he nearly always would show her something to do with Jon Snow.

I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R’hllor shows me only snow – Melisandre, “A Dance With Dragons”

If Jon Snow is Azor Ahai, then he needs to be able to meet three qualifications: he must be born amidst smoke and salt, be able to wake dragons out of stone, and he must be able to wield Lightbringer.

Let’s take a look at his newly updated resume and see if he meets any of these qualifications…

1. Must be born amidst smoke and salt

We can’t speak for the elements present during Jon Snow’s birth, but we can speak for those present during his rebirth.

There is no doubt that smoke was present during Jon’s resurrection (Melisandre threw clippings of Jon’s hair into the flames), but what about the salt?

It’s extremely possible that Melisandre had washed Jon’s body with a mixture of salt and water during the resurrection ceremony, which would have served purposes both practical and mystical.

Salt was used in ancient times by the Romans and Egyptians as an anti-inflammatory and antibiotic, something a newly revived Jon Snow desperately needs considering the fact that he’s ridden with stab wounds. And as far as the mystical arts are concerned, salt is commonly used by witches and mystic healers for purification, and many mystics prepare for their ceremonies by taking a salt bath.

If Melisandre did in fact use salt during the resurrection ceremony, then Jon Snow would have been literally reborn amidst smoke and salt.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that all water, fresh or not, contains traces of good ol’ sodium chloride… but this might be getting a little too technical for Game of Thrones.

2. Must be able to wake dragons out of stone

This qualification has Daenerys Targaryen’s name written all over it, but it’s possible that it may also apply to Jon Snow.

It is implied (but not explicitly stated) that Azor Ahai must have the blood of the dragon, so if the R+L=J theory is to be believed, then Jon Snow does in fact have that fiery blood within his veins.

The prophecy states that Azor Ahai will wake dragons out of stone after he is reborn, so if Jon is to fulfill this part of the prophecy, then we haven’t seen it yet.

Previews of season 6 episode 3 appear to show a young Ned Stark at the Tower of Joy (a central landmark in the R+L=J theory), so Jon may learn the true identity of his parents sooner rather than later. If that happens, then the dragon (Jon) may awaken on a spiritual level.

3. Must be able to wield Lightbringer

Jon Snow once had a dream where he fought the Others with a burning red sword, but he does not currently wield Lightbringer.

 Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again. – “A Dance with Dragons”

However, one could make the argument that Longclaw is Lightbringer, as the battle of Hardhome did seem to mirror the Azor Ahai prophecy.

Whilst trying to rescue a bag full of dragon glass from a hut engulfed in flames, Jon Snow was attacked and disarmed by a White Walker. He managed to find a sword to defend himself, but the weapon turned to dust as soon as it met the White Walker’s ice blade. He found and drew Longclaw from the burning hut and, to both of their surprise, the blade did not shatter upon meeting the White Walker’s weapon.

Sam and Jon theorized that the blade held up due to the fact that it’s made with Valyrian steel, a substance as mysterious as it is rare. Legend says that it was forged with dragon’s fire and magic, so it is entirely possible that Lightbringer is made of this steel.

This is assuming, of course, that Lightbringer is a literal sword.

If Lightbringer is a symbolic sword, and Jon Snow is indeed Azor Ahai, then the Night’s Watch may be that sword. It’s not exactly a far stretch: the Night’s Watch and Lightbringer were both forged to protect the realms from the White Walkers.

Verdict:

This is a complicated theory that relies more on speculation than actual facts.

If we ignore the speculation, then Jon definitely fails the Azor Ahai test. He was not born amidst salt and smoke (that we know of), he has not awakened dragons from stone, and he most certainly does not have a sword made of fire.

Daenerys, by contrast, does meet all of these qualifications (if you consider her dragons to be her fiery sword), but that doesn’t necessarily make her Azor Ahai.

Remember, Azor Ahai will be reborn for one purpose, and one purpose only: to defeat the Great Other and vanquish the darkness.

Daenerys is a sweet girl with a warm heart, but like many of the characters on Game of Thrones, her main interests and concerns are politically charged. She is a player in the fight for the Iron Throne, not a player in the fight against the White Walkers.

Jon Snow, on the other hand, is the only main character who is actively fighting against the White Walkers. If we were to proclaim a character to be Azor Ahai based on intent alone, then he’s hands down our hero.

So is Jon Snow Azor Ahai?

Well, it’s impossible to know for sure this early in the story, but let’s just say you wouldn’t be a fool to put your money on the brother in black.

 

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Book Review: ‘North of Here’ by Laurel Saville

northofhereSynposis

The sounds of unexpected tragedies—a roll of thunder, the crash of metal on metal—leave Miranda in shock amid the ruins of her broken family.

As she searches for new meaning in her life, Miranda finds quiet refuge with her family’s handyman, Dix, in his cabin in the dark forests of the Adirondack Mountains. Dix is kind, dependable, and good with an ax—the right man to help the sheltered Miranda heal—but ultimately, her sadness creates a void even he can’t fill.

When a man from her distant past turns up, the handsome idealist now known as Darius, he offers Miranda a chance to do meaningful work at The Source, a secluded property filled with his nature worshipers. Miranda feels this charismatic guru is the key to remaking her life, but her grief and desire for love also create an opportunity for his deception. And in her desperate quest to find herself after losing almost everything, Miranda and Dix could pay a higher price than they ever imagined.

North of Here by Laurel Saville, tells the story of a young twenty something year old named Miranda, who pretty much loses everyone and everything around her. She is rescued by the handsome Dix, the family’s handyman, and offered a place to live. Their relationship begins and ends almost as suddenly, when at a local farmer’s market Miranda meets the enchanting Darius, the owner of a place only known as The Source.

The Characters

Dix comes from a life of privilege, though he doesn’t flaunt it. He works as a handyman/landscaper for several families, which is how he knows Miranda. He seems very humble and forgiving. He tries to understand the world around him and just wants those he’s around to be happy.

Miranda is a 23 year old who went to school for the wrong subject. She doesn’t have a job and lives at home. Her brother died in a car accident, her father died as a result of a tree branch falling in a storm, and her mother is the victim of strokes brought on by excessive drinking.

Darius is a man that runs a commune of sorts called The Source. He takes in wayward teens and women and tried to live a pure life, a life free of modern technology, gadgets and medicine.

Sally is a social worker that helps Darius get The Source, but she quickly realizes her mistake.

Review

North of here took me by surprise. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either, and I think that’s because of the way the story is told.

The story is told in four different parts: Dix and Miranda, Darius and Sally, Darius and Miranda and Dix and Sally. I don’t fully understand the reason as to why it was told like this. For me, it broke the story up unnecessarily never really allowed readers the chance to fully connect with the characters. I found myself finally connecting with Dix and Miranda in part one, only to have it end abruptly.  It wasn’t made clear that the characters were being replaced in the second portion, which is very confusing to the reader.

The writing, however, is rather beautiful. Laurel really gets in there and tells an intricate and heartbreaking story despite having separated it into different parts. She really shows how people, especially who are easily influenced, can go from living a pretty basic and normal life to the complete opposite. It shows how people can easily can be seduced by something that seems so great and amazing, but in the end that thing will either get them killed or drive them to the point where even if they wanted to leave, they no longer can because they’ve lost themselves to the point where they’re unrecognizable to those who care for them.

There were several times when I didn’t think I could continue this book because the writing was so raw and it made me very sad to read. While I didn’t fully connect with the characters, the story was all too real of what goes on in the world, especially with cults and the way that young people can be easily persuaded to join something if they’re not strong enough to realize this isn’t the best situation to be in.

The story, while it ends happily, isn’t like a fairy tale ever after. It is very somber, but shows that light can prevail in darkness. Overall, I am going to give this book a 7/10. It gets major points for the writing and story, but not characterization and the layout.

About the Author

laurelsavilleLaurel Saville is an award-winning author of numerous books, articles, essays, and short fiction. Her work has appeared in the LA Times Magazine, The Bark, NYTimes.com, Good Housekeeping, The Bennington Review, Ellipses, House Beautiful, POL/Oxygen, Room, Seven Days, and other publications. She holds an MFA from The Bennington Writer’s Seminars and lives and writes near Seattle. She is also a corporate communications consultant, has taught at the College of St. Rose and Western Connecticut State University, and spoken at a variety of colleges and writing conferences including AWP, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Whidbey Writers Conference.

Her memoir of her mother’s colorful life in the midst of LA’s arts and hippie heyday and her tragic decline to a murdered street person, “Unraveling Anne,” won the memoir category of the Indie Book Awards and was a runner-up to the Grand Prize winner at the Hollywood Book Festival.

Her first novel, “Henry and Rachel”, is a fictionalized account of her great grandparent’s lives, loves, deceptions, and trials, which uses alternating, first-person narrative voices and actual letters. Booklist hailed “Saville’s poetic, lyrical voice”, and called it a “touching story,” , and a “tender, poignant debut novel.” It was also a finalist for a Nancy Pearl award.

North of Here was published on March 1, 2016 and can be purchased here.

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Wizard World: Vendor Spotlight

If you’re looking for some great artists and creators to fulfill all your geeky purchasing needs,  head into the Wizard World vendor hall and check out these amazing items!

candles

2016-03-19 15.58.28First up I found Lauren with Boonzy Arts who is based out of L.A. She has all kinds of incredible candles that smell delicious.  Her candles are inspired by her love of pop-culture which grew from her immense love of reading as a child.  Her “Wheel of Flame” candles are a unique idea she came up with and Kickstarted. Each scent can be used to
enhance your table-top gaming experience and comes with a random metal die. For instance, if your party is about to head into a cave to fight a dragon,  you can light the “Lair of the Dragon” candle to take the experience to a whole new level.  She also has pop-culture candles like “It Rubs the Lotion on It’s Skin” which smells like lotion , “Marshmallow Man” which is modeled after the Stay-Puffed Marshmallow Man,  and “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” which comes in a teacup! You can buy directly from her site also so make sure to check it out of you’re not in the Las Vegas area this weekend.

crafts
The next booth that caught my eye was Sara with My Faerietale because she has these 2016-03-19 16.00.05absolutely adorable pot people. She is Las Vegas based and you can only find her at conventions so make sure to come out!  She also has a love of pop-culture and a great motto of “I make what I like and I hope you like it too.” In addition to her pot people she also has an assortment of pins, magnets,  clocks and jewelry.  All the artwork is original from her daughter. Sara started at the Las Vegas Comic Expo in 2013 and now is doing between 12 and 15 conventions a year. I highly recommend stopping by her table and taking home your very own pot person.
petsI ran into Shakespeare’s Workshop (almost literally) with owner Summer Shakespeare who was absolutely delightful.  She is also based out of Las Vegas and has all sorts of 3-D prints,  custom costumes and hoodies, wigs, and the most incredible pet costumes.  She can be found on Etsy as well as on Periscope,  where you can actually watch her as she creates your custom item.   

2016-03-19 18.26.42If you’re like me and can’t leave a con without picking up a new print (or 10) to adorn your walls, make sure to check out Lisa Hall with Hallustration. She was always into Star Wars growing up and has expanded her geeky interests into anime and now comic characters.  It was through attending other conventions that she learned she could put her artistic talents to work reimagening her favorite characters in her own style. Most of the prints are in digital media, although she very much enjoys traditional art as well. If you can check her out here at Wizard World,  but if you can’t you can check out her Etsy or next weekend she will be at Salt Lake Comic Con.

2016-03-19 18.27.31

If you’re looking for a new series,  I highly recommend checking out Katie Salidas. She is from Las Vegas and currently has two full,  6 book series and a third series that is just starting out.  Chronicles of the Uprising is a Hunger Games meets Interview with the Vampire meets Gladiator.  She says that although it has vampires in it,  they’re not what you would normally think of vampires.  She also has her Immortals series which is a paranormal romance. Both of those series you can read without having to wait for the next installment! Her newest series is Pretty Little Werewolf.  The synopses for the first book begins: “All Giselle ever wanted was a family… who can accept her for what she is, a werewolf. In a world where supernatural creatures are not out and proud, this has been a problem for 16 year old Giselle. A child of the system, she’s been bounced from home to home for as long as she can remember. As soon as the moon calls out her inner wolf, it’s back into the system she goes….” you can read the rest on her website if you aren’t able to visit her this weekend.

 

Let us know what you think of these great artists and creators in the comments below!

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J.K. Rowling’s Latest Work is a Controversial Splendor


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released later this year on November 18, and in preparation for the big event, J.K. Rowling has released little stories over the past few days about magic in the Americas.

New information about the American wizarding world is undeniably exciting for Potter fans, but not everyone is jumping on board with these magical facts. In fact, many people are in uproar over some of the content, and some have went so far as to call Rowling racist. To garner more insight into why this is, I’ve summarized each of these new stories and their corresponding controversies.

Fourteenth Century-Seventeenth Century

The first installment of these stories is considered one of the most controversial pieces that Rowling has ever written.

It gave us a brief overview of magical life from the fourteenth century to the seventeenth century, zeroing in on Native Americans and their powers, specifically that of skin-walkers (a person who is able to transform into the animal of their choosing). But because skin-walkers are exclusive only to Navajo Indian folklore, many Native Americans accused Rowling of generalizing Indian culture.

Okay, I guess I can understand that.

But the backlash doesn’t end there. Some Native Americans are in uproar because they believe that Rowling is painting Native American culture in a bad light, and they are publicly defending their culture as spiritual, not evil.

While I do understand the concerns of Native Americans, I respectfully disagree with their sentiments. Rowling is in no way saying that Native Americans aren’t spiritual and beautiful. Instead, she is praising their race and culture in this story while trying to respectfully incorporate it into her fantasy world. If anything, this piece could act as a resurgence for Native American culture, as people who have read her work are now going to be Googling Native Americans to learn more. I grew up in the American southwest, where I learned and saw first hand what this amazing civilization and race did before modern times. I’m already fascinated with Native American culture, and Rowling’s piece made me want to research it even more.

I understand where the social justice warriors are coming from with their criticism, but the way I see it you can do one of two things here: call Rowling a racist who has no right to write about a culture that she hasn’t lived around or grew up in, or use her story as a platform to educate the masses about the deeply diverse and fascinating Native American culture.

It’s not fair to say that Rowling, who, like many of us, probably got most of her information about Native Americans online, is a racist.  She used the basic information available to her about skin-walkers and decided to incorporate that into her story, which is perfectly fine. Perhaps another one of the reasons why she received backlash is because she’s essentially calling Medicine Men wizards in this piece, but honestly, if I went to one and they somehow take away the migraines I’ve been dealing with forever, then I’d certainly think that magic was at play.

Seventeenth Century and Beyond

This section details the trials and hardships that were faced during the move from Europe to America, specifically highlighting the tensions between the Natives and Europeans, as well as focusing on the Puritans and their religious beliefs.

Native American history is taken into account once again with the mentioning of human trafficking and slaughter – events that happened because some of the settlers were dicks who thought that they were better than others. She doesn’t distort or lighten these historical facts, but people are upset at her mentioning of it because Rowling, again, took facts and melded it with her fictional world.

Scourers are introduced for first time in this piece. A Scourer is an individual or a group of people who have decided to take justice into their own hands. Unfortunately, as time went on Scourers became increasingly corrupt in their search to seek reward. As a result, the MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) was formed to help weed out the Scourers and help protect the wizarding community (especially after the Salem Witch Trials).

Here’s my main issue with this section: MACUSA was formed in 1693. America was not known as the United States of America until our Declaration of Independence in 1776 – that’s nearly a century off. Damn you, damn you Rowling for further screwing up! Now my life is a lie, and I can no longer read your stories! (Read: I will continue to read everything and anything you put in front of me because no one is perfect and mistakes happen. I wouldn’t have even thought twice about this if the date wasn’t mentioned).

Rappaport’s Law

In an already secretive America, witches and wizards seldom mingle outside of their own kind. The president of MACUSA, Emily Rappaport, created a law segregating No-Majs from magic users to help protect their way of life. However, a massive breach was made by the Keeper of Treasure (and Dragot’s daughter), Dorcus Twelvetree. A poor performer of magic, Dorcus was more or less a socialite who became infatuated with a young man named Bartholomew Barebone. Unknown to Dorcus, this young man came from a family of Scourers, and as such had a deep disdain for magic. Bartholomew wooed young Dorcus into telling him the secrets of the MACUSA and Ilvermorny, which led to a sort of new-age witch hunt that harmed the already shaky American wizarding community. Because of all this, Rappaport’s Law was passed, which banned all mingling between wizards and No-Majs; no friendships, marriages, etc.

I found this part to be pretty harmless, but there are some people that are upset because they believe that the fictional magical segregation mirrors the very real racial segregation of America. I understand their concerns – this story takes place in a very tough time for civil rights, afterall. We thankfully have moved on from this era (for the most part), and today we are a country that strives for equality and happiness. But we need to remember that this story is a work of fiction by an author, and fiction will ALWAYS have similarities to reality.

1920s Wizarding America

Rappaport’s Law is still firmly in place in the 1920s, even though many witches and wizards stood with both sides during the Great War of 1914-1918, aiding in the prevention of some loss of life.

MACUSA has relocated from Washington, D.C. to New York City, and it’s been brought to my attention that some folks are displeased with this. What is the problem with it being in New York? Wizards and Witches live in secrecy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t live among us, especially in New York, which is a major world hub. Rowling’s historical timeline ends in the 1920s, but maybe she eventually said fuck it and moved the MACUSA to Las Vegas in the 1990s when the Excalibur opened. It would be a hilarious little tongue in cheek, “hahaha we’re literally right under your nose.” Who knows?

As far as education goes, American wizards have the opportunity to attend Ilvermorny, one of the top wizarding schools in the world. The wizarding world practices the magical equivalent of common core education, but because there were initially no wand makers in the new world, American wizards were falling behind their international peers.

So, in came wand makers and legislation for them.

Wand permits were introduced in the last half of the nineteenth century. Anyone carrying a wand needed a permit so that any mischief that may occur could be controlled. In total there were four wand makers, each coming from different locations and each with their own special abilities. It doesn’t seem that the wand chooses the wizard here in America, though, but rather magic users could buy their wands according to the type of magic they favored ( in order to maximize spells).

We also learned that wizards gave no care for prohibition. They were already on the down low about existing, so why not keep that ‘Gigglewater’ flowing?

This section has one parallel that really stands out here. If you replaced wand permits with gun permits, then you basically have the second amendment. If you own a wand (gun), then you have a permit as to identify ownership in case of death and craziness. Hey, everyone needs accountability.

In conclusion…

To close, these stories are short, and some of them come off as insensitive even. There is no doubt about that.

I can understand the detractor’s points of view on these, but there also seems to be a bit of nit-picking coming through, and for what reason? Because it’s something new, and some people think that Harry Potter was done after book seven? There are so many people, including fans, who are turning their noses up to this new world that J.K. Rowling is taking time to create for us, even though it’s something that a lot of people have been asking for. I remember being one of those people who wondered if she’d do a story set in America, wanting to know if there were wizarding schools outside of Europe.

She’s finally creating these worlds for us, and it’s wonderful and amazing.

I am one of those people who will sit here and defend ANY author I read and admire, primarily because it’s THEIR world, THEIR story, THEIR way. Yes, she is taking some liberties, intertwining history with her wizarding worlds, but that’s what writing is. If you don’t borrow a little from here, a little from there, and put your own twist on things, then there would be no great literature there would be nothing new.

Sit down and read these stories for what they are: a work of fiction.

These stories are something that another person is taking time out of their day and families to create for other people, to give folks a way to escape reality just for a short time and imagine a world that is awesome and fun. No one is telling you to read it or watch the subsequent movies, but it’s wrong to sit here and criticize everything that is written in a piece of fiction. There are far more abhorrent things going on in the world, and frankly it’s a waste of time to sit here and get your knickers in a twist over someone’s writing.

But then again, we are also a world (and country) that bans books because they’re too depressing or include nudity…because READING about someone losing their pants is apparently scandalous.

You’ve heard my thoughts on the controversy, now share yours in the comments!

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‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ Book Release!

Well, it has been nine years since the last Harry Potter book was released, and five since the last movie hit theatres.

This year, all things magical are about to take over the world again because the series will go on for years and years and new generations will find, discover and love it.

Today Pottermore announced that the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1&2, which releases this summer on stage in London, will release simultaneously in script book form. This is especially exciting news since not everyone has the funds and abilities to travel to England, and hell, even if you live in England these tickets are coveted and sold out through March 2017 (I know, I looked already because I’m traveling to Ireland/England this winter and the cheapest tickets I could find were like $2000 American. Big fat nope there).

Also being released will be the rehearsal addition, meaning at the time of first showing, this is what will be said on stage. Through rehearsals and reviews, we can only expect there to be revisions made, and later in the year the Definitive Collector’s Edition will release, which will be the amended and final version.

The rehearsal edition will be available for purchase on July 31, 2016, which is Harry’s birthday of course.

From Pottermore, the premise of the play is as follows:

The eighth story. Nineteen years later.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

You kind of have to wonder where this will eventually lead to, and whether there will be more than just this single book/play to come in the future. Part of me wants to see his son sort into any house other than Slytherin, but on his way to becoming a dark wizard. I think that might be an unpopular opinion, but you never know, I could be nailing it on the head.

October 2016 also sees the release of the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by Jim Kay.

2017 is the 20th anniversary of the first publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK, and to honor this occasion, they will once again be re-releasing the first book, this time Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff themes. The Hogwarts library of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, and Tales of Beetle the Bard will see new versions, Fantastic which of course is being expanded upon.

THAT’S NOT ALL THOUGH FOLKS! Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them also will be released this year on November 18, 2016 and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Los Angeles opens April 7, 2016.

THAT’S A LOT OF HARRY POTTER FOR ONE YEAR… and then some!

What are you most excited to see from the Harry Potter universe? Let us know in the comments!

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‘The Winds of Winter’: New Status Update

Well folks, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we will not be able to read The Winds of Winter before the season six premiere of Game of Thrones. 

The Winds of Winter is not finished,” a noticeably depressed and apologetic George R.R. Martin revealed earlier today on his LiveJournal blog.

“I failed. I blew the Halloween deadline, and I’ve now blown the end of the year deadline,” Martin explained, “and that almost certainly means that no, The Winds of Winter will not be published before the sixth season of Game of Thrones premieres in April.”

The Game of Thrones franchise now finds itself in a very unique situation, as the show will be featuring canon material from The Winds of Winter (as confirmed by Martin), but without the original source material available to viewers. This means that, for the first time ever, diehard readers of the book series will have to turn to the HBO adaptation to learn more about the murderous, treacherous, and downright mysterious world that is Westeros.

This is definitely extremely disappointing news for fans of the book series. Not only do we all have to wait longer to get our hands on the book, but the axis of power has shifted. Readers can no longer revel in the amount of information they hold compared to non-readers, which some of the more zealous fans may consider to be the worst news of all.

But fans aren’t the only ones who are disappointed by this news.

“You’re disappointed, and you’re not alone,” Martin sadly admitted. “My editors and publishers are disappointed, HBO is disappointed, my agents and foreign publishers and translators are disappointed… but no one could possibly be more disappointed than me.”

Martin’s disappointment is understandable, but, truthfully, it’s kind of unwarranted.

We as fans can’t even begin to fathom the immense pressure that Martin is under right now, both as a writer and as a human being.

Here’s a man who puts so much extreme detail and care into everything he writes, carefully weaving in clues and information that will be useful for future plot points. There are no accidents in his writing – everything has a perfect place.

George R.R. Martin is one hell of an author, and that’s a feat he accomplished through time, patience, and care.

But many fans don’t have that same level of patience, nor do they understand how grueling the writing process can be. Demand from us prompts Martin’s publishers to demand action from him, which certainly would create stress for Martin, distracting him from his work.

If anyone should be disappointed in themselves, it’s the fools who keep rushing Martin to complete his art on their time table.

So, on behalf of GeekGirl World, I have this message to send to Martin: take your sweet time, my liege. This is your story, your world, your life, and we’re all merely just strangers enjoying the fruits of your labor. Do you, boo. When The Winds of Winter is finally ready for the world to see, I promise we’ll all still be here waiting with excitement.

When exactly that will be, we just don’t know… and neither does Martin.

“It will be done when it’s done,” Martin explained. “And it will be as good as I can possibly make it.”

As far as this fan is concerned, that’s a perfectly fine answer.

Are you excited for The Winds of Winter? Share your excitement (or lack thereof) and theories in the comments!

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