J.K. Rowling releases first chapters of new children's story The Ickabog
J.K. Rowling has a new story to share with its own kind of magic. It's titled The Ickabog, and to be clear, it has nothing to do with Harry Potter. You can see for yourself by checking out the first two chapters here.
"This is not a Harry Potter spin-off," Rowling wrote with all-caps and extra emphasis at the start of a 13-tweet thread. Though The Ickabog was written "in fits and starts between Potter books," Rowling declined to publish it after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, focusing instead on The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo's Calling (the latter the first of her Cormoran Strike novels written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith).
Like J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, The Ickabog originally served as a bedtime story for Rowling's children. However, something about the coronavirus lockdown inspired the author to publish it for a general audience.
"A few weeks ago at dinner, I tentatively mooted the idea of getting The Ickabog down from the attic and publishing it for free, for children in lockdown," Rowling wrote in a blog post introducing the story. "My now teenagers were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again. As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life, as The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed)."
The first two chapters of The Ickabog available to read now on a specially-designed website, with subsequent chapters to follow on a weekday basis until July 10. They introduce readers to the bountiful land of Cornucopia, ruled by King Fred the Fearless. Though most of Cornucopia is overflowing with delicious food, there's a more barren area called the Marshlands where people speak of a child-eating monster called the Ickabog. The monster doesn't officially appear in these first two chapters, but anyone familiar with Rowling's writing should expect plenty of twists and turns to come.
On top of everything else, Rowling is also soliciting children to create illustrated art for The Ickabog, which will be published in printed edition in November. With each new chapter, Rowling will be releasing suggestions for illustrations tied to that chapter, though she also wants kids to "let your imaginations run wild!" Find out more about the competition here.