There is a lot to unpack from the lengthy story that J.K. Rowling published to Pottermore on Tuesday. “Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” dwarfed the previous installments of Magic in North America with enough whimsy and ghastly tragedy followed by more whimsy to fill an entire film—if Rowling wasn’t already planning another certain trilogy of American-set movies.
The story of Isolt Sayre is absolutely worth a read for anyone who has reveled in Rowling’s lived-in wizarding world, and if you haven’t already dived into Pottermore to learn for yourself how Ilvermorny became a respected institution, I suggest you do so now. You can also get sorted into one of four houses at the school. Where my Thunderbirds at?
But the story also included some larger details about Rowling’s fictional world that are worth diving into. Here are the 12 things were learned from “Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
1. Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is located on Mount Greylock in Massachusetts and was founded in the early 17th century.
2. One of its co-founders, James Stewart, was a Muggle.
3. The school with its four houses was based organizationally on Hogwarts.
4. The houses—Horned Serpent, Wampus, Thunderbird, and Pukwudgie—each represent the favorite animals of Isolt Sayre’s family.
5. Where Ilvermorny differs from Hogwarts is in its sorting ceremony. Students are chosen by respective houses. If more than one symbol indicates a desire for the student, he or she will pick a house.
6. Young American wizards, before the repeal of Rappaport’s Law in the 1960s, didn’t get full possession of their wands until graduation from Ilvermorny at the age of 17.
7. Terry Boot, a Ravenclaw in Harry Potter’s year and a member of Dumbledore’s Army, is a descendent of Webster Boot, Isolt’s adopted son
8. Not all of the descendants of Salazar Slytherin were evil. Isolt, who is related to the Hogwarts founder through her Gaunt lineage, inherited the family’s Parseltongue ability, which in the end saves her family from Gormlaith’s attack.
9. Slytherin’s wand, which ends up in the possession of Isolt, had a Basilisk horn core.
10. Wands with shared cores, like those belonging to the Boot boys, can amplify magical powers when used against a common enemy.
11. Pukwudgies, which Rowling describes as “a short, grey-faced, large eared creature distantly related to the European goblin,” make for an excellent addition to the world of magical creatures.
12. Hidebehinds, magical creatures that can shapeshift in order to duck behind any object, are terrifying.