Let’s hasten through a perfunctory survey of J.K. Rowling’s new story The Ickabog. Available to read for free on her website, the story was revivified, Rowling writes, to help children around the world cope with the inevitable, oppressive boredom of lockdown. The last of the 34 installments will be published on her website by July 10, with the book to appear in its entirety in shops in November.
In any case, Rowling is impervious to the maunderings of reviewers. She vies for the title of world’s bestselling author with the prolix James Patterson, from whose keyboard words and books spill seemingly unbidden like a drunk’s dinner on the pavement. As with Patterson, it would take a forensic reader to pick out a handful of sentences that startle, dazzle or delight from Rowling’s copious oeuvre, or an idea that hasn’t emerged premixed from the great vat of British boarding school stories. The Ichabod is similarly unremarkable, a trite fairy tale that will be easily read and digested by its target audience (7 to 9-year-olds), though in the hands of adult readers might trigger theatrically despairing columns about our infantile society.
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