Longtime fans have been clamoring to see Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on the big screen ever since its announcement, on the heels of a long dry spell for Potter cinephiles. But the movie isn’t just a sparkling, often dark addition to the canon for those who already love J.K. Rowling’s brand of narrative magic—it’s also a new reader’s perfect introduction to the wizarding world. If you’ve never read Harry Potter and are wondering if you should climb aboard the bandwagon, here’s why you absolutely should, and why Fantastic Beasts is the best place to start.
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1. You can dip your toes in first.
Once you’re hooked on Rowling, seven books (and one script book) in the Potter series won’t seem like enough. But coming in cold, it might look like a hefty commitment for a newcomer. If you’re looking to test the waters before diving in, Fantastic Beasts is the way to go. The film features a practically new character in Newt Scamander, a magical creature enthusiast who eventually goes on to write one of Harry Potter’s school textbooks and has plenty of misadventures along the way. Bonus: the movie isn’t an adaptation of a novel, meaning you can see it without invoking the ire of book purists, and you won’t be missing out on anything. Score!
2. It won’t give anything away.
Fantastic Beasts takes place in 1920s New York City—about seventy years before the events of the Harry Potter saga. Needless to say, you’ll be safe from spoilers. (It won’t be like trying to navigate Twitter after the latest Game of Thrones episode, for instance.)
3. But that doesn’t mean Fantastic Beasts is entirely unrelated to the larger Harry Potter series.
Fantastic Beasts is set in the same richly textured world as the series that first captivated readers over 15 years ago—which means Newt uses many of the same magical spells as Harry, that institutions (like the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) exist in both stories, and certain characters even pop up in each. However, elements are incorporated so seamlessly (and familiar names dropped so casually) that Potter newbies won’t feel left out.
4. It will leave you wanting more.
Which is perfect. Fantastic Beasts is the first of five (yes, five!) movies, so you’re all set there. And if you’re interested in the nuances and finer details of the wizarding world—more than what the quick-paced, rollicking good time that is Fantastic Beasts delivers onscreen—then we can think of seven books you might like.
5. You’ll still have the whole Harry Potter series to look forward to.
Most Potter fans would like nothing more than to be able to go back and reread the series again for the best time. It’s not one of the biggest bestsellers of all time for nothing. After falling for Rowling’s world in Fantastic Beasts, you’ll be in the uniquely enviable position of having basically prepared your mind to be blown. Because trust us when we say this: the Harry Potter saga is life-changing.