Book Review: The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling

Full disclosure: I might be slightly biased towards J. K. Rowling. Okay, I worship at her altar. I waited for my Hogwarts letter (I’m still convinced it was lost in the mail), seriously considered stealing my graduation robe because it made me feel like I was at Hogwarts and wept so much throughout the duration of Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (“It’s over, it’s all over!”) that the friend I was with became concerned for my mental well-being.

Which is why I find it a tad blasphemous to confess that I haven’t read The Casual Vacancy yet. And I don’t plan on reading it anytime soon because I cannot afford a book that all by its red-covered self costs Rs 850.

It also feels a little blasphemous to admit that I read The Tales of Beedle the Bard only last week, when it was published all the way back in 2008. Now I’m an unabashed Harry Potter fangirl (“Do you seriously think the movies are better than the books? I … don’t think we can be friends anymore”) so I don’t know why it took me 4 years to read this supplementary book. Whatever the reasons may have been (all-round poverty and the fact that this secondhand copy cost me less than a quarter of the original price at a book sale earlier this year), I’m glad I didn’t miss out on The Tales of Beedle the Bard altogether.

The five fairy tales in this book have a nice dose of foolish kings, damsels who don’t wait for handsome princes to relieve them of their distress, unadulterated greed and murder (don’t be appalled by the presence of the last two in a book for magical children; Muggle fairy tales aren’t chock-full of sugar and spice and everything nice either – abandoning your kids in a forest hardly demonstrates stellar parenting skills). The stories also have a few line-drawings from Rowling’s own hand and each tale is followed by Professor Dumbledore’s notes and his sometimes hilarious footnotes.

The stories themselves are pretty interesting; each one is well-thought out and made more engaging by Dumbledore’s explanation at the end. His notes are witty, full of clever asides and also offer some interesting wizarding world trivia and a fair bit of wizarding history. Reading this book made me impatient for the promised encyclopedia to glean more details of Rowling’s vividly imagined world.
I’d recommend it to everyone. Fans of the Harry Potter books might enjoy it more thoroughly but even those who haven’t read the books will find the stories fascinating.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

J. K. Rowling

Pages: 108

Price: INR 499

Publisher: Bloomsbury

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