Hello, people of the internet!
So, I finally read my first screenplay after graduating! I read scripts when I was at University studying creative writing and, ever since, wanted to read more. When I heard that one of my favourite authors, J. K. Rowling, had written one, you bet that was on my TBR list!
(Before I start, I’ll just say that I keep typing ‘Fantastic Beats and Where to Fine Them’. I have somewhat previously mentioned this in my December 2016 Book Haul post, but I still find it funny.)
Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
Author: J. K. Rowling
Publication Date: 18 November 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown
Explorer and Magizoologist Newt Scamander has just completed a round-the-globe trip in search of the most rare and unusual magical creatures. Arriving in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when Newt’s case is misplaced and some of his fantastic beasts escape into the city, it spells trouble for everyone…
I read it in a day and, let me tell you, it was no doubt worth the read!
However, I will say that I can understand if people find this book off-putting because of it being a screenplay. The way it is formatted and written can be confusing, though there is a glossary at the end. It isn’t as detailed as J. K. Rowling’s other books, only offering the most basic details. For example, the basic looks of the characters and creatures.
But that is what a script should be; it allows freedom. J. K. Rowling doesn’t go into much detail about a character because then it can allow more candidates for casting roles. The reason why these fantastic beasts aren’t as detailed as in her novels because it allows more freedom for the special and visual effects team to create these creatures for the big screen. I will say that I don’t know if this is the true reason why this script was written this way, but that is what I got as I was reading it.
What I love most about this book is how, even with its basic details, it feels like it belongs in the Harry Potter universe. I love all the beasts – I really want to get my hands on the actual textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – and the exploration of the magical world in 1920’s America is very interesting. It is different from the world created in the Harry Potter books, but it works so well, it feels like a part of that universe’s history; like it should be.
As for the characters, I think they worked off each other well. I have to say my favourite character is Newt Scamander himself – I find the way he treats and cares for his creatures so endearing. In fact, there is a section (I’m afraid I’ll have to spoil this slightly, but this is something I have to mention) when he begs his arrestors not to harm his creatures. With the words he says – only with the description ‘screaming, desperate’ and he is ‘magically restrained’ – are very powerful. That alone just shows how much he loves those creatures. That’s the point in the story when he became my favourite character in the book.
That just shows how good J. K. Rowling’s writing is. The fact that even with the most basic descriptions, she manages to conjure (see what I did there?) emotion from the reader.
As for the story itself, it isn’t as grand as the Harry Potter books, but it works nonetheless. It allows for some funny moments, some upsetting moments and some very tense moments. I personally think the reason why I love this book is because of its characters and setting as well as how it feel like a J. K. Rowling book, despite it being a screenplay. Her writing does show itself quite nicely.
I would give this 4 stars out of 5. I haven’t seen the film yet (I know, I can’t believe it myself!), but this screenplay alone is a great read with a beautiful cover and atmospheric illustrations inside.
What did you think of the book? Have you seen the film? Feel free to let me know.
Thank you for reading!