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JK Rowling Tackles the Magical History of America in New Harry Potter Stories

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“The History of Magic in North America” is a new series of four original stories about the Wizarding United States which will premiere tomorrow on Pottermore at 9:00 AM.

This is presumably tied to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which has Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) accidentally releasing a bunch of magical creatures during his meeting with an official from the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA). This is a problem for New York City’s wizards and witches, since the New Salem Philanthropic Society, an extremist organization dedicated to the eradication of wizards, has already put it on the the defensive.


The stories are going to fill in the history of the United States prior to Scamander’s arrival in 1926. Based on the video released by Entertainment Weekly, we’ll learn about the American wizarding school Ilvermorny, skin-walkers, and the magical history behind the Salem witch trials.

The idea that Salem cast a long shadow over American wizarding history is one that drives me crazy, by the way. First of all, there was a whole thing in the third Harry Potter book about witch burning being pointless because of the Flame-Freezing Charm. But thanks for showing people screaming in fire in the video anyway! Second of all, not to get all “America, fuck yeah!” on people, but please let’s not have the a whole story about the amazing British man saving America from its provincial extremists. Third of all, skin-walkers are a Native American myth, so let’s hope the white British lady approaches that with some delicacy.


On the other, less red, white, and blue hand, J.K. Rowling’s done very little coloring in of the wizarding world outside of Britain, so this is a fascinatingly mysterious aspect of the world she’s created. I imagine controlling magic and dealing with wizard and non-wizard relations in a country this size—plus the whole states issue—throws up some interesting challenges. Or now I’m just hoping these short stories have more depth to them than they probably will and dooming myself to disappointment.

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