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They Took All the Fun Out - Where's the Commentary?
Reviewed in the United States on March 14, 2017
I am a long-time Harry Potter fan. As such, I owned all of these books from the day of their original releases, and remember them well. Unfortunately, the newest released set from today (March 14, 2017), which I bought to replace the copies I ultimately lost in a house fire, are a fundamentally different product. To be fair, "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" and "Quidditch Through the Ages" are both fine. They're newly printed in a nice matching hardcover style that suits the boxed set well and really makes them feel a bit like textbooks at the same time. I don't like the cover art on the Beedle book as much as the original, and I seem to remember (but may be mistaken) some of the pictures being bigger in the original, but these aren't deal breakers. The content for both of these volumes appears to have remained fundamentally intact through to the new publication design.
The real problem rests with the new release of the "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" book. Many people reading this review (and indeed, there are even pictures posted from previous releases showing it) may remember that the original release was presented as a copy of the textbook as owned by Harry Potter. As such, it contained a lot of doodles and "handwritten" notes from Harry and his friends throughout the book, integrating a lot of humor and personality into the textbook content about the various creatures. Unfortunately though, those notes are, in the new version, removed. There are one or two "notes" from the "editor" in the new foreword to the book, but that's it. I know that it probably costs more to have so much varying formatting and everything, but it's not like they couldn't recoup the costs. As it stands though, this new clean version essentially feels like a partial text. The core content is there, but the personality, humor, and fun that made the original so much better is all gone. It's still good, if you want to know about the magical creatures in the Harry Potter universe, but it really used to be so much better.