Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

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4 stars

Another stunning installement in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay follows the happenings of magizoologist Newt Scamander in New York.

When his magical suitcase of rare and unique creatures from the wizarding world, Newt Scamander is looking for a way to set one of his creatures back to its native land. But when plans go awry and his suitcase of creatures is accidentally open, his fantastic beasts escape and Newt has to track them down.

As Newt looks for his magical creatures and where they hide, he discovers a plot far more sinister than he imagined when checking into the customs of 1920s New York City.

Here’s the official summary:

J.K. Rowling’s screenwriting debut is captured in this exciting hardcover edition of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay.

When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best.

Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition to any reader’s bookshelf.

I watched the movie for Fantastic Beasts before I read the screenplay. This is the first screenplay I’ve ever read, and this is probably why I was quite surprised by what I found.

When I started reading this novel, I assumed by the “play” part of the word that this would be structured like a script, such as that of A Raisin in the Sun etc. I don’t mind reading scripts, but my expectations were more than just a script.

I thought there would be deleted scenes or slightly different wording, but instead I found the exact script of the movie with stage and camera directions.

I’m pretty sure there isn’t a word that doesn’t match with the movie, which disappointed me a lot. I was hoping for something more than just a transcript, which is why I found myself disappointed, but aware of where my expectations got the best of me.

After reading it, I definitely prefer the movie because there are more details in the movie then there is in the novel (surprising, right?), which is the opposite of what happened with Harry Potter. Seeing it on screen was a much better experience for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s that way for you!

Here’s the definition of a screenplay, for reference:

screen·play

the script and often shooting directions of a story prepared for motion-picture production

Despite my initial reservations, I found this to be another enjoyable start to J.K. Rowling’s soon to be 5 movie/book prequel series to her acclaimed Harry Potter.

The characters were all as loveable as Rowling’s characters usually are. Even in just script form, we get a very strong sense of who they are and what they sound like, meaning we have a brand new batch of extraordinarily memorable characters.

Likewise, the side characters were just as memorable and unique as Newt and main female protagonist Tina, although I am waiting for Rowling to write a queer/non-white protagonist, rather than just as side characters.

The plot was fast paced (movie, remember?), increasing in pacing as we grow close and closer to the end, dropping clues and foreshadowing like Hansel and Gretel through the woods.

The growing subplot of the group of people who disliked magic and their protests and attempts to stop it as a mysterious dark force ravages the streets of New York was as enchanting as it was dark.

I did, however, find the plot to be very structured, almost too much so. I think this is pretty common in first books as stories have to start somewhere for more unique and complex ideas to grow, but it was very Rowling-esque for a seemingly harmless introduction to develop into a much more devious plot, similar to what happened in Harry Potter with Professor Quirrel and Voldemort.

I’m hoping that we’ll get new twists and turns in further movies/novels as Grindewald’s influence grows stronger.

The romance had a good balance. Contrasting to the little eleven year olds in Harry Potter, these are fully grown adults who are the main characters and I the hints towards romance are coming on a lot stronger than in Harry Potter when everyone was merely a tiny fledgling. I think the romance between the characters has a lot of potential and Newt and Tina, had good chemistry as well as sidekick characters Queenie and Jacob.

The 1920s New York setting creates a significantly different vibe than in England, and it contributes well towards the romantic aspects of this screenplay, but also the illustrations in the book.

Throughout the screenplay, there are these pretty, 1920s-esque illustrations of the magical creatures Newt unwittingly set loose upon the streets of New York. This motif continues throughout the entire novel, from chapter headings to page numbers to the dust and hard covers.

The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, especially with the cover in shiny gold and blue, and it was 100% worth buying the screenplay if only to see the illustrations.

I found Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay to be different than what I expected, but still a wonderful story nonetheless. I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Rowling, and some of those who aren’t if they perhaps didn’t like Harry Potter as it was initially geared toward a younger audience.


much love, vicky

What did you think of Fantastic Beasts? Did you like the screenplay or the movie better?

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