Top positive review
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Your ESSENTIAL ringside seat to the Harry Potter phenomenon written by an insider, Melissa Anelli.
on October 23, 2008
Though there have been many dozens of books attempting to chronicle the particulars of Harry Potter fandom in all its dimensions -- the fan fiction, the Wizard Rock, the websites, the conventions, et al. -- all have fallen short because of the inherent difficulty in condensing its breadth and scope to manageable size; but this one admirably compacts ten, detailed years of Harry Potter history in its 356 pages, and covers the subject thoroughly.
It's a given that, if you know of Melissa's Leaky Cauldron website, you'll find this book to be an extension of the website, and delightfully so; but the real surprise for me was that it not only is for the die-hard fans but the rest of the world who are wondering, "What's all the excitement about?" This book answers that question.
In its pages, Melissa Anelli thoroughly covers Harry Potter fandom in a way that could only be done by an insider, by someone who has had access to virtually everyone of note in the Harry Potter community, fan and pro, and also what she calls "Team Potter" -- Rowling's publishers, agents, lawyers -- the professional team who rarely give access or interviews to their inner workings, and, most significantly, Rowling herself, a "first" for any book written about her. That "Team Potter" allowed Melissa access speaks volumes about their professional respect for her, which is why The Leaky Cauldron (a reference to a beloved inn and favorite watering hole in Rowling's wizarding world) is considered the best, most reliable source of news in Harry Potter fandom. (This year, especially, has been trying and divisive for fans, because of the trial between RDR Books and Rowling. During that regrettable and sordid episode, it was The Leaky Cauldron that was the voice of reason.)
In reading Melissa's first-hand account of what's happened in Harry Potter fandom and the book/movie worlds drawn from the seven Harry Potter novels, it's as if you're right there with her, being caught up in all the excitement: from public events to behind-the-scenes closed-door sessions, Melissa shares it all; and with its sense of immediacy, I found reading this book to be an intimate reading experience. The writing tone is in keeping with the infectious enthusiasm that characterizes most of Harry Potter fandom, and why fans are still, more than ever, pumped up about a boy named Harry. (And Severus Snape. And Professor Dumbledore. And the rest of the colorful characters in the wizarding world.)
A journalist with real-world credentials (she was a reporter for a New York newspaper), Melissa properly starts, and ends, the book with a discussion about the last Harry Potter novel, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. In coming full circle, there's a sense of closure, of course, and rightly so; but as 2008 has shown, Rowling has not retired, so there's more, much more, that is grist for the mill for a future edition: the publication of BEEDLE THE BARD, for one, and its eye-popping, record-setting price realized at auction for one of seven hand-written copies; and, of course, the Rowling/Warner Bros. vs. RDR Books trial, which was the subject of some of the looniest mainstream reportage I've ever read. (Like many others, I relied on The Leaky Cauldron for fair and balanced coverage. And it ain't over yet: RDR Books has filed an appeal.)
A bonus: There's also an eight-page photo insert (black-and-white photos), with some fascinating pictures: candid shots at Harry Potter fan events, photos of Rowling, and some photos of the author with some guy named Daniel Radcliffe, and Rowling herself + her PI (personal assistant), Fiddy Henderson.
At $16, the retail price, the book is a good buy, but at the discounted price on Amazon, it's a GREAT buy, and deserves a place in the library of anyone who has enjoyed the Harry Potter novels and wants a book that accurately puts the Harry Potter phenomenon in context.
Bottom line: This book is WELL worth your time and money, especially if you are too young to have been there when all of this went down, or if you're new to the Harry Potter world and want to know what all the fuss is about.