If the phrases "Translated from the ancient runes by Hermione Granger" and "Commentary by Albus Dumbledore" don't get your Hedwig-emblazoned Underoos in a twist, we might as well cut to the chase: The Tales of Beedle the Bard probably isn't for you (and you're also probably a joyless, dour ass, but that's beside the point). For the rest of us—we who squeal like Colin Creevey at the slightest mention of butterbeer or blast-ended skrewts—it's pretty damn hard not to get excited about Tales, even if it isn't so much a "new Harry Potter book" as it is a welcome, lighthearted footnote.

Support The Portland Mercury

Weighing in at a slight 107 pages—a length that's padded by its roughly 400-point type—Tales will neither make Potter fans out of nonbelievers nor radically change anyone's perception of the now-concluded series. But for those who're stuck in the limbo between 2007's final novel in the Harry Potter saga and next summer's film release of The Half-Blood Prince, Tales is as good of a Potter fix as any. Insert hyperventilating Colin Creevey noises here.

Like Rowling's previously released Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages, Tales is being sold to raise money for charity—in this case, Rowling's children's rights organization, the Children's High Level Group. But also like those two books, Tales is enjoyable and fun in its own right: The proceedings here feel epic, but with a humane touch, and the tone is steadily breezy, with just enough sinister darkness to keep things interesting. Tales collects five fairy tales that're supposedly beloved in the Harry Potter universe, and they're accompanied by wry analyses from Dumbledore; sometimes cute and sometimes creepy, the stories showcase Rowling's talent for crafting charming, impressively imagined fantasy that feels at once familiar and new. Hardcore Potter dweebs might pick up on some minor hints about the broader wizarding world, and most readers will catch Rowling's not-so-sly jabs at the dimwitted hyper-evangelicals who've condemned the Potter books—but by and large, Tales is simply meant to feel like a children's collection of fairy tales, and it does. We might be out of luck when it comes to "real" Harry Potter books from here on out, but gimme one of these every few years, and I won't complain. Too much.

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30